For Immediate IT Support 613-288-5805 or email us

Digital Spring Cleaning: Perform a Desktop Audit

There is an easy way to perform a desktop audit and get rid of the clutter that accumulates from years of daily computer use. This is a surprisingly common problem that can be fixed in less than a half hour with the following method.


Start by creating organizational folders for your files. For example, photos can go into a “photos” folder. Work related documents such as word files, excel spreadsheets, and graphical assets can go into a “work” folder. If you have a hard time thinking of what kinds of folders you will need to organize your files, it is okay to create them as you go along. After making a few folders to start with, you are ready to start cleaning the desktop itself.


Windows and Mac computers both have a simple tool you can use to organize the files on your desktop. Start by right clicking on an open area of the desktop. Windows computers have an option called “Arrange Icons” with several choices such as arranging by file name, file type, and the date the file was created. Macs have a similar choice called “Clean Up By” with several sub-categories to pick from. Choose whatever organization method suits you best. Most people will find arrangement by file name or file type to be the easiest methods to work with.

Clean Up

Next, open up an explorer window. Macintosh users will know this as the finder window. Using your previously created organization folders, go through your files one at a time and move them from the desktop to the appropriate folder, deleting duplicate and obsolete files as you go. As previously mentioned, it is okay to create new folders as you go along. Skip any files that don’t have an obvious home for now. You don’t want to get stuck on the occasional difficult file when you can instead make great progress by focusing on the 90% of files that will easily be sorted. Make a second pass through the desktop for those tricky files at the end and you may find that some of them are easier to sort out on the second time through.


You may find yourself dealing with a few files at the end of the process which don’t have an obvious home. For files that you want to keep but can’t decide what to do with, there is a simple solution. Create a folder entitled “Miscellaneous” and dump those last few files in there. This isn’t a perfect solution, but it is better than nothing.

Of course, you will want to leave a few files on the desktop for regular use. Your favorite internet browser and any regularly accessed computer games or programs are common choices. This is fine in moderation. When in doubt, start by taking it off of the desktop. You can always put files back later.

Your desktop will be cleaner and better organized than ever before after you finish this process. As a bonus, additional cleanups will be quick and easy thanks to these methods, and data back-ups will be easier to perform.