Join Nick Brazzi for an in-depth discussion in this video Organizing items on the desktop, part of Mac OS X El Capitan Essential Training.
- If you're just starting out with a new computer for the first time, chances are, there's nothing on your desktop. But if you've been using your computer for a while, there's probably a lot of stuff there. But is it all stuff that you want to be there? Earlier in this course, I warned you not to put too much stuff on your desktop. In this movie, I want to show you why that can be a bad thing. Then, we'll start to look at some of the options you have for getting things cleaned up. So let's start by putting a bunch of files on the desktop. If you've got some files you can just drop on your desktop, great.
For me, just so I have something to work with, I'm going to go into Finder and into my Documents folder and play around with some of these same files we were working with in the chapter on Finder. So I'm going to go into this folder here and I'm just going to dump all of these files on the desktop. So I'll select the first one, I'll hold the shift key and click on the last one. That selects everything in between. I'm going to drag and just drop them on the desktop. And you'll see that will move those files to the desktop. Now in Finder, if I go to the Desktop shortcut inside of Finder, I'm going to see the same files here that I see on the desktop.
So I mentioned this before, but it's important to see the contents of the desktop folder in Finder is exactly the same as a contents on the desktop here. They're the same thing. Okay, so I'm going to go back to Documents and let me choose a couple of folders here as well and I'll also drop those on the desktop. And then I'll close this Finder window. So if you've got a bunch of files and folders sitting on your desktop, you might start to see something like this. It's starting to get pretty cluttered. And so this is one reason why I don't like to have a lot of files on my desktop.
It's just really hard to find what I'm looking for. The other reason, of course, is the more files you have on the desktop, and the bigger the files are on your desktop, your computer can actually start to run more slowly. But for now, let's talk about how we can get things organized if you do have a bunch of stuff on your desktop. Of course, everything looks cluttered now but I can move these files around. If I click and drag a file, I can move it and I could start to kind of lay these out in a more organized way. I can also move several files or folders at the same time.
So using the keyboard commands that we saw earlier in the course, I could click on one file then hold the command key on my keyboard and click on another and another and now I have these all selected together. And if I move one, they move together. In fact, as long as these are selected and I move one, you'll see that there's a little flag underneath my mouse cursor, and in this case, it's kind of hard to see, but it says 3, because three files are selected. Another way to select multiple files would be with a lasso. So if I put my mouse out here on the blank, empty desktop, click and hold the mouse button and drag, you'll see that I'm drawing this box.
And if I stretch this box out to cover several files, when I let go, those files will be selected. And again, if I move one, they all move together. So you might try to sort of manually clean things up just by laying out these files in a specific location and that might be one way to get things organized. But there are some automated tools built into Finder that will get these organized for you. One way to do that would be to go to the View menu and again, I'm looking at a blank desktop, I don't have any other window open.
So the menus I have up here are Finder menus. So I'm going to go into the View menu and I'm going to look at these options for Clean Up and Clean Up By. So I'll start by just hitting Clean Up. And already, this is looking a lot better. There's sort of an imaginary grid on your screen, and it just sorted all of these icons out so that they're laying upon that grid. But they're still not in any particular order. They're actually pretty random. So I'm going to go back into the View menu, I'm going to go to Clean Up By. And when I Clean Up, I can have it clean up according to a certain sorting.
So let's say I want to clean them up by name. When I do that, now they're all alphabetized by name. You'll see the first one under my hard drive says All Recipes, beginning with A. Then the next one begins with B and C and F and on down alphabetically. We can always go back into the View menu, go to Clean Up By and sort them by date modified. Or I could organize them by what kind of file they are. So now all of my folders are together and then all files of certain types are together.
So I can see a group here that are all Excel files, a group here that are all Microsoft Word documents and so on. Now that I've cleaned up these icons, if I grab one and I move it, I can still manually sort these and put them wherever I want. So if I go back into the View menu, there's this option for Clean Up and then there's a separate option for sort. Currently, this is set to None. So there's a difference between Clean Up and Sort but they behave very similarly.
So here in my Sort By options, let me sort these by name. And again, they all alphabetize by name. Now if I grab a file and I move it out, it's just going to snap right back where it was a moment ago. And we're going to see the reason for this if I go back to the View menu. You'll see that the Clean Up option is no longer available. When you sort icons on your desktop, that is going to be handled by the computer and it's going to keep them in that order, and you're not able to move them. And so the Clean Up option is no longer available.
Now I can always go back to Sort By and switch that back to None. Then I can manually move icons, or I could go into View and I could hit Clean Up. So Clean Up is kind of a one time command, and Sort By is semipermanent, as long as you leave that turned on. But it's a semipermanent command that keeps things organized the way you've told them to be organized. So I'm going to switch this over to Date Created. It'll automatically sort them and organize them by the date they were created. And then if I try to move them, they're not going to move.
So that's how we can get things organized. Let's change how we view these icons. I'm going to go into the View menu, and them I'm going to choose Show View Options. We've got some things we can play around with here. First, the icon size. I can adjust this slider, and I can make these icons much bigger on the desktop. If you have vision problems, this might be really helpful for you to see the icons on your desktop. You can also change the text size here. So if I make this much bigger, it's a lot easier to read that text.
But of course, I can change these back. I can even make the icons very small. If I'm going to have a lot of icons on my desktop, it might help to have them small. But I'm going to go back to something sort of in the middle. I can also adjust the grid spacing, which determines how close or far away these icons will be from each other. And again, I'm going to reset that back into the middle. You'll see that by default, the text for each icon is at the bottom of the icon, but I could change that to the right if I prefer. So there are a few extra options here in these view options to help you decide how you want these icons to appear on the desktop.
So from here, we're starting to get organized. And if you do have a lot of files and folders on your desktop, you might want to try some of these functions to get things cleaned up. What used to be a big mess of files on my desktop is now much easier to browse. But still, after a few weeks of this, your entire desktop screen could be filled with files. So as always, refer back to what we talked about in Finder. It's really a good idea to keep your documents inside of your Documents folder, your pictures inside of your Pictures folder and so on.
It's much better to keep your files organized in folders in your hard drive through Finder, rather than leaving them loose on the desktop. But for now, if you do have files on your desktop, at least you can get them cleaned up and organized.
- Setting mouse and trackpad options and gesture controls
- Connecting to the Internet
- Organizing your Mac OS X desktop
- Browsing files and folders with the Finder
- Launching and quitting applications
- Using Split View and multitasking
- Searching for files with Spotlight
- Browsing the web with Safari
- Setting up Mail, Calendar, and Contacts
- Connecting to others with Messages and FaceTime
- Working with notifications
- Installing apps
- Sharing over a wireless network
- Backing up your Mac