Mar 282009

03.28.09 by jewels

The rest of my existence may be a shambles, but my desktop has to be clean. I just can’t stand crap all over the place. However, this feeling is often at odds with my need to have stuff readily accessible that I’m working on. Luckily I have two awesome apps that free my desktop to be as clean as my house should be. And the best part is – they’re both free….

Hopping on my pc is blissful cleanliness:


How do I get it like that? It’s a combination of two great free programs. One handles my programs, the other handles my works in progress.

First up: programs. I hate the start menu-I’m a shortcut girl, but I hate having shortcuts everywhere. Obviously I needed a launcher app. The issue I have with most of them though is the hotkeys. I’m old, my memory sucks, I don’t want to have to memorize a bunch of different hotkeys to start up the apps I want to use. A few years ago I got lucky and found a launcher I could customize to my liking that would appear with one hotkey and give immediate access to all the programs I wanted available.

desktop, 8start

And there it is. When not in use it disappears, when I want it, it shows up. It allows you to customize many features such as categories, icon size, folders etc. You can have static categories or dynamic ones. There’s a built in notes function which can store your web links, pictures, documents…whatever you want to put in it. I’ve been using it for several versions over the last few years and it’s always worked flawlessly. If you want it too, head on over to 8start. It’s skinable and many skins are available via the site. So if you want your launcher to look like an iphone, or media player, or whatever-you have that option.

My programs are all neatly organized by 8start, but I still find that I need stuff I’m working on placed on my desktop. If I put stuff elsewhere I forget where I put it, and I hate having to search for it. Fences allows me to actually keep stuff on my desktop that I need to access quickly-and then make it disappear when I’m doing something else:

desktop, 8start, fences

This great little app is made by stardock and allows you to put your works in progress inside these neat little fences that appear and disappear in a click. You can have as many or as few as you need, they’re resizable, replaceable, and customizable. Once you’ve made your fences, any new additions to your desktop can be easily dragged into a fence for instant organization. Of course, you can use these fences for whatever you like. If you don’t want fences and a launcher, you could move all your desktop shortcuts into categorized fences and be done with it. Go ahead and grab your free version of fences here: fences

This is how I make my desktop work for me, and only need to remember two hotkeys. So how do you organize your desktop? Share your thoughts and program recommendations with us in the comments. Need help getting started? Feel free to post on our forum and we’ll be happy to assist you.

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