How to Clean Up the Windows Vista Desktop
Windows XP had a program called the Desktop Cleanup Wizard that offered to clean the desktop for you, but it didn’t work very well, so it was left out of Windows Vista. Never fear, you can still clean up the desktop in Windows Vista, you just have to do the thinking for yourself.
1Right-click a blank place on the desktop and choose New→Folder. Name it something obvious.
Here, we’ll just call the folder Old Stuff.
2Click Start, and then click your username in the upper-right corner.
You see the contents of your user folder.
3Double-click the Desktop folder.
It’s a bit weird to think of the desktop as being a folder, but that’s what it is. Windows Explorer shows you the contents of your Desktop folder.
4To find the items you haven't used recently, right-click one of the column headers (such as Type or Size) and choose More.
Explorer shows you the Choose Details dialog box.
5Find and select the box next to Date Accessed and click OK.
Date Accessed appears as one of the column headings in Windows Explorer, though you might need to shrink the other columns to be able to see it.
6Locate the Date Accessed column and click the heading to sort the list by, uh, date accessed.
Folders appear at the top of the list. Don’t let that confuse you. In the end, you should be able to see which items on the desktop have been used recently and which are as old as politicians’ promises.
7Drag the stuff you haven't used to the Old Stuff folder. Then X out of the Desktop folder.
The changes won’t take effect immediately.
8To see your new desktop, log off and log back on.
When Vista comes back for air, all the things you moved into the Old Stuff folder no longer appear on your desktop.
Vista also puts items (typically shortcuts) stored in the C:UsersPublicPublic Desktop folder on your desktop. That’s why you see other items on your desktop even after you got rid of the junk in your Desktop folder.
9To completely remove any remaining unwanted shortcuts from only your desktop, drag each one to the Recycle Bin.
You can stop right here and enjoy your uncluttered desktop. However, if you want to hide the some remaining icons from all users’ desktops, and if you’re logged on as an Administrator, continue on.
Windows Explorer shows you the drives on your computer.
11Double-click the C: drive and then choose Users→Public→Public Desktop.
Explorer shows you the Public Desktop folder.
If you don’t see these folders, you’ll need to tell Vista to show you hidden files. Choose Tools→Folder Options→View and select Show Hidden Files and Folders. Click OK.
12Click and drag the old icons into the Old Stuff folder and X out of the Public Desktop folder.
Again, the changes won’t take effect immediately.
13Log off and log back on again for all the changes to take effect.
If you ever want to restore one of the old icons, double-click the Old Stuff folder, bring up the original folder (either your Desktop folder or the Public Desktop folder), and drag the icon back to where it came from.