Save. Spend. Splurge.

Organized Desktop: Keep it clean, neat and blank!

Nothing irritates me more than a cluttered desktop.

Any more than 5 files and I start twitching.

I use my desktop as the temporary space for files, pictures, anything I don’t want to search for a home for, but need to use right away.


At the start of each morning, or at the end of each day, I go through and sweep through my desktop so it looks like this again:


(That mini castle is in Belem, Portugal 2011 where they have awesome pasteis de natas)

Each file goes through one of these actions:

  • Review (if it’s on my desktop, it is there for an on-going reason)
  • Keep
  • Remove (e.g. move it completely from the computer, put it on another)
  • Delete
  • Rename
  • Move (into folders for instance)

The goal is a clean desktop, and as a result, I don’t forget about things very easily if they’re right there, staring me in the face.

I also make lots of notes on my iPod Touch with AwesomeNotes, because this is how I organize my daily life digitally, and set reminders.


Currently, you will notice I have an Ebates CANADAΒ and a TD-Sell excel sheet on there.

I’m working on both at the moment, so they’re allowed to stay there until it’s done.

Ebates CANADA was to calculate how much I’d save going online rather than buying something in-store), and I don’t quite want to file them away yet, because it isn’t completed.

TD-Sell is when I plan on selling some investments because I’m re-balancing my portfolio, but am waiting for a certain benchmark.

UPDATE: Ebates Canada is not worth the hassle.


At the very top, is my permanent but temporary re-sized images folder (oxymoronic, no?)

I re-size a lot of images to either 600px for the blog, or 1000px for other purposes (gives great detail but not everything the original has).

As a result, sometimes my desktop looks like a hot mess because of all the images going on at the moment.

It drove me so crazy, I created a temporary folder, and an Automator function on my Mac to dump all resized photos in there, but to keep the originals where they were.

How to create a Mac Automator function to automatically re-scale images

Find the App Automator which looks like a robot

Click on it

Click on Application > Choose

Now search forΒ Scale Images, which is how they say “resize images”, and click and drag the action to the workflow window

This pop-up will ask you if you want to create a copy finder so that your copies change in size, but not your originals.

Say Add (a.k.a. YES), or else your originals will be resized, and you may realize you didn’t want that after all and can’t go back.

You’ll see these actions appear in Workflow, and now you just have to direct the folder to your Temp folder on your desktop, and change how large you want the images to be scaled to:

Don’t touch anything else, like “Replace existing files”, it’ll just screw up the point of preserving your original files.

You can do this Automator thing for a whole host of other services that are repetitive actions you don’t want to keep doing over and over again.

Any other tips you want to share with me?


  • Tania

    Awesome tip on the photo resizing. I’ve been saving less and less photos but still need to clean out my old inventory. I once listened to a podcast where the Suitcase Entreprenur interviewed blogger of and she said she just has a cheap laptop and stores nothing on it. She travels all the time and just tosses it away when she needs a new one, everything is virtual or not kept. I’ve been obsessed with that since for my blog/home and am taking baby steps along those lines.

    I’m the same about the desktop, I clean up everything each night. I also only have right in front of me what I’m currently working on, everything else stays in a tickler or project file or in my tray/sorter (I’m a financial controller so I there is a constant in/out of my office of staff work I have to review, sign or research). If I’m in the middle of a project or I need to remember to do something first thing the next morning, I may leave it on my desk but it’s closed up neatly with a paperweight on it (so no one else covers it up). I feel it starts the day off right not to see a messy desk when you first sit down in the morning.

    I follow David Allen’s GTD so I capture any to dos, ideas, errands, etc on my my Things app which works on Mac/iPad/iPhone and synchs via cloud. It’s not a cheap app but I found it’s been a lifesaver for me.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @Tania: I store quite a bit on my main Mac laptop but I do back it up so if it ever dies, I am not concerned.

      I think seeing a messy desk or a desktop when you start, drains your energy and productivity. I feel the same way about Inboxes. If I see an email, I am annoyed.

  • Leslie Beslie

    I hide all icons on the desktop. I don’t even think of this as a space I can use for anything other than pretty wallpapers.

  • Debt Blag

    I wish I had the discipline for this. I treat my desktop as something of a to-do list (on top of my email inbox and a real-life paper to-do list), and there’s always something else to do πŸ™‚

  • SarahN

    As I work on proper work sites I have paper files, I have paper files,. I try to keep the paper files tidy on my desk but it isn’t a win this Friday evening. Going to the pub won!

    The computer desktop is one folder per project. It’s cluttery but quicker than alternatives.

  • Sense

    We’d work together well! I do the same with my email and my screen saver! I download papers and files for work like crazy, and at the end of the day they all get filed or deleted. I also have a few permanent folders (and “Computer” shortcuts) to file things I want to keep handy temporarily. Love it!

    With my email I let things that I need to respond to or take care of or open ended project tasks that I need to remind someone to do or follow up on languish in my inbox until it gets done. Everything else gets deleted or put in the appropriate project email folder. Because I hate having a full inbox those things get taken care of pretty quickly. πŸ™‚ Everyone that sees it comments on my clean, streamlined email inbox and is really jealous. It just takes a few moments!

  • MelD

    Any windows that I need to keep open are reduced (yellow button) to the task list at the bottom of my screen at the end of the day, leaving my Hermes plain red leather screensaver clear… πŸ˜‰

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