Desktop Shortcuts Give Quick Access to Applications and Folders

The standard method to access applications and folders in Windows is through the Start menu. Using the Start menu is slow because you have to open cascading menus to find the entry for the application you want. Desktop shortcuts give you quicker access because you only have to double-click on an icon to launch the application or open the folder.

A shortcut is simply an icon with an associated link. Place shortcuts on your desktop to all applications, folders, and files to which you need quick access. At the same time, remove clutter from your desktop by deleting any shortcuts for applications you don't use regularly.

If you have shortcuts on your desktop for applications that you no longer use. Use the Add/Remove Program Utility in Control Panel to remove those applications. You may have shortcuts on your desktop for applications that you already removed, but the shortcuts remain. To remove these shortcuts, drag them to the Recycle Bin.

You may have shortcuts on your desktop to programs that you use frequently, but you never access through a shortcut or menu. One example is Acrobat Reader. This is a free program from Adobe that allows you to read PDF files. Another example is WinZip, an application used to compress and extract files. These applications are almost always executed automatically via a file association.

Another example is a Firewall application. This type of program usually loads automatically at startup. It is opened manually only rarely when you want to reconfigure the firewall. To reduce clutter, delete the desktop shortcut for these types of applications (but don't delete the programs or their Start menu entries.)

Arrange the remaining icons on your desktop by categories. For this purpose divide the screen into sections. An example with six sections is described below.

Upper-left: Default system shortcuts; My Computer, My Documents, Recycle Bin, etc.
Lower-left: System Maintenance shortcuts; CD Creator, Winzip, etc.
Upper-right: Graphics Applications; Paint Shop Pro, Windows Paint, Scanner, etc.
Lower-right: Word Processing Applications; Writer, Windows Wordpad, etc.
Upper-Center: Folders.
Lower-Center: Files.

You can define areas and categories according to your own needs and preferences.

To add a shortcut to the desktop, drag and drop the applications icon or Start menu entry while holding the right mouse button depressed, then select "Create Shortcut Here" in the popup menu. Listed below are some shortcuts you might want to add to the System Maintenance area of your desktop.

Control Panel: Date/Time
Accessories | System Tools: Disk Cleanup
Accessories | System Tools: Disk Defragmenter

Create desktop shortcuts to files that you open regularly. If you get too many shortcuts, create a folder on your desktop, for example named "Misc Desktop Files". Drag and drop the least frequently used file shortcuts to the folder. You can create several desktop folders for different categories of applications and files.

When you have completed arranging your desktop shortcuts to your satisfaction, right-click on an empty area of the desktop and select "Line Up Icons" in the popup menu that appears.

After you have become accustomed to this new desktop arrangement, you will be able to quickly access all your frequently used applications, folders, and files. This will make your work faster and easier.

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