Why You Shouldn’t Save Files to Your Desktop

August 1, 2014  •   Charlie Woller

Your computer’s Desktop is the easiest place to save images, text documents, recent downloads, and any other kind of file. But while it seems easy and convenient to save that file there where you know you can find it again, here are three reasons why you shouldn’t:

Why You Shouldn’t Save Files to Your Desktop

  1. Files stored on the Desktop can actually slow down the computer’s overall performance.
  2. Your Desktop will eventually run out of visible space which actually makes it more difficult to locate the file you need. Some of you may have already run out of Desktop space.
  3. 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 or elsewhere on your computer.

Folders and Shortcuts.

Folders and ShortcutsFolders are a great way to organize files without taking up all your Desktop space. Create folders for different projects, publications, or file types. You will also want to store your folders and files in a location that is safe, but can still be accessed easily. You can easily do this by creating  Desktop shortcuts to your folders and files.

Here’s how:

Let’s pretend you have a folder on your Desktop called Publication Resources that contains several Microsoft Publisher documents for your publication. You will first store this file in a more secure location, then create a shortcut to it.

  1. Right-click on the folder and choose “Cut”
  2. Open your My Documents folder (in Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, it is just called “Documents”)
  3. 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.
  4. In the My Documents folder, find the Publication Resource folder that you just moved. Right-click it and choose “Send to > Desktop (create shortcut).”
  5. 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]