Your computer Desktop is the easiest place to save files: images, text documents, recent downloads, etc. It’s so convenient to just save that file there where you know you can find it again.
Resist the temptation to do it! Why?
- Files stored on the Desktop slow down the computer’s overall performance. Not drastically, but some.
- Your Desktop will eventually run out of visible space. What will you do then? (Some of you reading this post may already have run out of Desktop space!)
- Most importantly, the files on your desktop at this very minute have probably not been backed up and are vulnerable—they may be easily deleted. If they are important enough to be quickly accessible, they should be backed up and stored in a folder nested within your “My Documents” folder.
The solution? Shortcuts.
You can fill up your Desktop if you want to (although #1 and #2 above still apply). But instead of saving the actual file there, just create a shortcut to that file.
Here’s an example of how to do that. Let’s say you have a folder on your Desktop that contains several Microsoft Publisher documents pertaining to your publication. That folder is called “Publication Resources.” You want to store this folder in a location that is safe, but you still want to be able to access it easily. Follow the instructions below to do that:
- Right-click on the folder and choose “Cut”
- Open your “My Documents” folder (in Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, it is just called “Documents”)
- In an empty area of the “My Documents” folder, right click and choose “Paste.” Now your “Publication Resources” folder has been moved from the Desktop to the “My Documents” folder.
- In the “My Documents” folder, find the “Publication Resource” folder that you just moved. Right click it and choose “Send to > Desktop (create shortcut)”
- Close the My Documents folder and go back to your Desktop. You should see a new icon there called “Shortcut to Publication Resources” or “Publication Resources – Shortcut.”
So whenever you need to open that folder, you can just double click the shortcut on the Desktop and it will open just like it always did. The difference is that the shortcut on your Desktop is only a shortcut—the actual file is stored safely in your “My Documents” folder.
Shortcuts are a nifty feature. They work for both files and folders. Use them to declutter your Desktop and safeguard your valuable information.
[Adapted from The Computer Tutor]