Your Desktop Is Not a Destination

I'm of two minds on the desktop.

If you're really using your computer, your desktop should almost never be visible. Your screen should be covered with information, with whatever data you're working on. I can't imagine why you'd willingly stare at a static background image-- or even a background image covered with a sea of icons. Unless you consider your computer a really expensive digital picture frame, I suppose.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

I subscribe to the “desktop-as-a-workspace” philosophy. Anything I’m ‘currently’ working on that I want persisted through reboots I put there as a to-do reminder. Since I like to keep a ‘tidy’ desktop, I’m always processing/filing stuff on it to get it off.

I also like having a spacial perception of where stuff IS such that I can arrange it like a tac board. Unfortunately, it sucks when you change your resolution (via remote desktop or graphics driver updates) and your icons get completely rearranged.

Ultimately though, I hate the usability standard that the current Windows Desktop is stuck in. It’s so… Windows 95. Microsoft has completely dropped the ball on developing the functionality of the desktop + toolbars.

No one should have read this far down… Go back to work.

I do prefer dark backgrounds for my desktop, but not because they save energy on a LCD-- they don’t.

My desktop is a photograph I took on my honeymoon and then photoshopped a bit. Frequently I see it when I’m switching between windows. Since it was a picture from a very good day and it’s very a peaceful picture; it helps me maintain that zen-like calm that is needed then running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

This is exactly why the Windows Vista Sidebar is a useless feature.

I like Wallpaper Master Pro for multimonitor desktop, and it does loads of other cool stuff. It’s probably going a little over the top if you find the desktop completely useless though!

Personally I like art and photos on my desktop, and as it changes every 10mins it never gets boring.

That Ubuntu Background is actually the default background. It was not picked specifically for the screenshot.

I personally never bothered with desktop backgrounds. I usually leave the default because you should see your desktop only during startup anyway.

I love my desktop… It’s my best friend! Not because I like looking at static wallpaper art (I have a job… and and life) but because for me the desktop is the perfect application launcher.

I have my most used apps (and many not so used apps) positioned in groups according to their basic function i.e. Development, Office, Multimedia, System, Reference etc.

My brain is now naturally programmed to just hit “windows key” + D and then my app launcher is there to lauch the required app. This really doesn’t work on auto-arrange which is something I hate to see on other peoples monitors! Arrrh! :slight_smile:

See my work PC screenshot as an example…

It’s also one of the most accessible folders on my computer (using XP tablet PC edition since I don’t have the kind of time to tweak linux for tablet usage) - Win+D to access a folder, Win+D to put all your windows back.

This is precisely how I use my computer. I have, uh, 13 windows open right now, but I can get to my desktop with one key combination, and then a double click to launch one of my most active files.

In comparison, a filed document is: start menu click or keypress - start menu shortcut click or keypress - appropriate folder click (possibly with scrolling) - double click on filename.

I never go to My Computer when I’m working. It spins up the DVD drive, which costs me valuable seconds.

For me, the desktop background used to be something that was visible when my machine was locked. With Vista that’s not even an issue anymore.

I don’t even like any icons on my desktop. Keeping things on the desktop is a perilous road to travel, and can lead to all kinds of organizational problems.

I’ve got my Visual Studio layouts configured to cover every pixel with some kind of information about the project. Very often, it bothers me if I have to alt+tab as well, because that means that something wasn’t on a monitor that should have been. Maybe I need more monitors…

Gidday Jeff from New Zealand,

Well I totally get what you are trying to say, and to be frank I held a similar view til about three days ago.
Now my backdrop is set to black with my all the folders I use along with a few sparse most used applications on the backdrop. The whole icon arrangement is a mindmap of sorts with areas which a related next to each other.
I just press Win+D and quickly select what I want to get to.

If this take anyone interest I’ll send them a screenshot. :slight_smile:
asturneresquire at msn dot com

For really cool fractal desktop backgrounds including multi-monitor backgrounds, a href=""

They are truly beautiful - you can study their intricacies for hours if you want, but equally they can be non-distracting abstract backgrounds. Also, they appeal particularly to computer geeks as they’re testament to the beauty of computing power applied to mathematics!

P.S. Despite the blatant hard plugging, I’m nothing to do with the site - I just love the backgrounds and always use them on all of my computers.

On Windows, the desktop is just a painful reminder that you had to logout or reboot for some reason. For example, maybe you can’t connect to a network share at work because your password expired and you need to log out and back in again to change it. Another possibility is that the program you were working in crashed, which is also annoying.

Also, what’s wrong with the sidebar? Isn’t the whole point of the sidebar that it pops up over what you’re working on, but then goes away?

I tend to use most of the desktop for apps, but I have some program icons I use a lot (for several purposes) stashed on left/top side of desktop. Those icons might be visible only for few pixels worth, but that’s because I tend to use several programs to edit some same files. This way I can quickly drag drop file to program I want (not default app. for that filetype) and get it open as fast as possible…

You don’t need an extra tool to have a single image span multiple monitors. Just set the background “position” to “Tile” in the display properties of Windows, and an image of the proper resolution will be displayed as you would expect. I have a panoramic view spanning two monitors as my background, and don’t have UltraMon or something similar installed.

I was expecting a post on the attempted desktop-to-web covergence, i.e. conversation around Mozillas recent Prism announcements (do we really need to break down webapps into desktop icons?). Fancy diving into that one, Jeff?

I thought long and hard about what folder I open up most, and decided it was my documents. So I junctioned/sym-linked my desktop to my documents folder. I now get some vague use out of it.

Hi Jeff, I disagree completely. The desktop serves exactly the same purpose as a clean whiteboard. It is a clean slate from which to start working and is therefore a necessity.

In fact you could think of it as a “destination” - the one you go to when you need to start from scratch. As such maybe it is better to clear it of all images and icons.

Then again maybe it is also an area of calm in the blitz of information and as such should have some calming wallpaper.

One of my qualms with Vista, it is very rude in terms of desktop, dafault reard giant icons and that thing on the side that takes up a 7th of your desktop to display a clock, I know they are things that can be corrected but its just too much damn hassle.

I never have program shortcuts on my desktop, they are all in quicklaunch which is in a bar along the top of my screen, along with my computer giving me quick acess to any drivers, the desktop is covered in some documents and media files i am working on or with atm but its not an issue because i never see my desktop, unless i am acessing one of those files.