Friday, September 14, 2012

A Clean Desktop for Efficient Working

Since some months ago i´ve been a computer order junkie. After some virus fought valiantly and forced me to make a system restore of my manufacturer settings, the subsequent work to reorganize together with the amount of info lost made me realize that I needed to do something to keep my virtual life tidy.

For the good or the bad I had search around the internets to find the proper solutions to the things I wanted to achieve, so today I’m starting a series of articles to explain how I managed to find inner peace within the madness of my previously chaotic virtual self.

A Dock to keep it all in reach

I love wallpapers, I really do. I have a collection that probably goes above the hundreds, rotating randomly in my computer background every 30 minutes. They inspire me when I’m out of ideas and sometimes bring me a smile when I recall images I haven’t seen in a while.

But in order to appreciate my wallpapers I need to keep my desktop clean. This is quite difficult when your desktop icons keep shifting from place to place constantly due to changing screen resolution and/or screens.
My first incursion on the clean desktop world was lead by apple style docks. Mainly Rocket Dock.
Docks are small instant access bars that remain hidden, but hover over your desktop when your mouse comes near their screen edge. They allow to have some amount of quick access icons to recall your defined programs in a visually appealing way.

Rocket Dock in action

 Though I used docks a lot during the last two years, they still left some issues to deal with:

First: In order to not overcharge the dock with useless things you should only place a handful of programs on it, thus, if you ever used a higher variety of programs, you will have to go back to the classic Windows Start menu and search them out.

Second: Documents you are working on are not so long-lived as to place them on the dock, yet, they are important enough to not leave them on the confusing mess of a constantly shifting desktop.

Third: The dock has two activation modes – under windows or over windows – this means that you either have to go back to your desktop with no active windows maximized to open it, or you can activated over your maximized windows, usually resulting in the dowck beckoming a constant a**hole by popping out when you don’t need it.

Organizing desktops with Fences

Part of my dock problem was solved when I found another tiny and useful program called Fences.
Fences allow you to set a group of contained areas in your desktop where icons stick to whatever happens in the outside of the fence. So you can for example define a IMPORTANT fence with all the docs you are working on, and another fence with something like PENDING ORGANIZATION. No matter what sorting order you apply to the Desktop, the fences will remain in place and the contents of them won’t get mixed with the others.

I myself love to have the recycle bin in the lower right side of the desktop, so I have her in her own fence so I’m always sure she will always be there no matter how I mix and shuffle other things around.
For almost a year the Dock/Fences combo did it for me until I met WinLaunch.

How Fences can keep order on your desktop

WinLaunch - The temptation apple

I am an ipad user, and though I’m not an apple fanboy, I must confess I really find peace on the organization system of the icons in OSx. So when I met WinLaunch I decided I needed to give it a try… and I loved it.
Winlaunch loads on startup and remains hidden from sight as long as you don’t activate a certain command on your computer (mine is Ctrl-Alt-F in order to not mess up with some gaming keyboard configurations). When you do, your desktop blurs to an ipad like icon shelf, where you can place as much icons you want, acting like a second desktop of sorts.

This not only allows you to keep a clean Windows desktop, but also prevents that unwanted attention to your desktop contents, especially important when you use to carry your computer around to job meetings, roleplaying sessions, or have a meddling girlfriend.

Winlaunch will blur your desktop and put everything one or two clicks away

Icons can be further organized into folders, and will always remain in the place you left them so you don’t have to worry about them shuffling around. Also, as they are not crowding your wallpaper now, icons can be considerably bigger, allowing faster identification.

Folders will open on the exact way they do on OSx, showing their contents in a small strip but without cramming your screen with lots of open folder windows. This that may be something stupid sums up with the decision to open programs with a single clic, and auto-hiding the WinLaunch app after opening. At the end of the day, you won’t need to close all folder windows opened while searching for the app. 


I hope that if you are in the same journey of self organizing as i am this article has been helpful and shown you some tidying options. During the next weeks we will talk on some other ways to help you achieve order on other places of your computer, so don't miss it!

Oh, by the way, the header image is from Real Desktop, some fancy thing if you are into the visual, but i guess if you were reading this is because you don't want that kind of desktop to begin with.


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