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Clean Up Your Desktop
Move Most of Your Icons to a Hidden Side Panel
by Edie Lewandowski

On most of the club’s computers, we have hidden most of the icons that often appear on people's desktop and placed, what I call a “Side Panel” on the left side of the screen. This side panel acts as a toolbar. Most of the time it is hidden, see example A. It only appears when the cursor is moved the left edge of the screen where the tool bar appears, see example B.


There are various ways of creating this side panel, I will explain the method that works best for me.

I work completely with shortcuts - shortcuts for files and shortcuts for folders. If you should happen to somehow delete this side panel, if it's only a shortcut, it's always easy to replace.

First, right click on the Start button in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Left click on the Explore button. This brings up the Windows Explorer screen and shows the Start Menu subfolder in the Windows folder on the left hand side of the screen. Right underneath the Start Menu folder is another subfolder called Programs. Left click the Programs folder to bring up a complete list of folders on the right section of the screen which contains all the shortcuts to all your different programs.

With the Programs folder still open, create a new sub folder in Programs. Go to the file menu up in the left hand corner, left click on File, then New, then Folder. This creates a subfolder called New Folder with the name highlighted. Immediately type Side Panel. This should rename that new folder and call it Side Panel. Right click on the Side Panel folder. When the pull down menu appears, left click on create shortcut. A short cut to the Side Panel now appears. Leaving that shortcut there, simply right click on it and copy. Then place your cursor somewhere on the empty desktop and right click. When the pull down menu appears, left click on paste. A shortcut to the Side Panel should now be on your desktop.

Double click to open this folder. Place any of the icons on your desktop which are shortcuts into this folder. You can tell which are shortcuts by the small arrow in the lower left hand corner of the icon. If there isn't an arrow, right click on the icon, then click on properties. You should see a box that tells you it's either a shortcut or a program.

I find when I go to many people’s homes, I actually have to create more subfolders, ex. Games, Monthly, Tools, etc. I go through the same method I did when creating the Side Panel folder and shortcut, only this time I name them those various names mentioned previously.

Again open these folders and place the appropriate icons in those folders. Then place these folders in the Side Panel folder.

Note: Some items that cannot go into this Side Panel folder are the icons for My Computer, Recycle Bin, Network Neighborhood, etc.

Close the Side Panel folder. Using the left mouse button, drag the Side Panel icon across the desktop and throw against the left wall. If you did it correctly, it should have stuck and opened up somewhat like Example B. It will show large icons though and probably have more icons than can be shown.

Place your cursor clear up at the top of this toolbar and right click. On the pull down menu, click on view and choose Small. This immediately makes small icons and usually opens up space at the bottom of the toolbar. Again right click on the open space and click on show text. Using the double sided arrow which appears when you place the cursor along the right hand side of this toolbar, stretch the toolbar so that you can see all the titles. Again right click and choose Auto Hide. I like to also use the Always on Top feature, though many people don’t like this. Try it and see which you prefer.

Now when you move the cursor away from the left side of the screen, the toolbar disappears. When you move the cursor back to the left edge, it reappears.

When opening the programs using the Side Panel, do not double click, one click is all you need.

Never right click on the side panel and say close, if you do, it will disappear. But you can always go back to the Start button to open Windows Explorer. Simply find the shortcut for the Side Panel, copy it and paste it back onto the desktop. Throw against the wall and you are back in business.

In the meantime you will notice that there is still an icon on your desktop that says Shortcut to Side Panel. You can just delete that.

If you want to place extra icons on this Side Panel toolbar that aren't on the desktop already, you can go to the Start Menu folder and find the shortcuts. Simply copy them, paste on the desk top and then place in the Side Panel.

I will be covering this in my MS Works SIG during the July 17th class at the Main Lorain P{ublic Library. I will be covering this along with lesson on File Management where you will learn to organize your files so that you can first of all find them and second back them up. This presentation will be very useful to relatively new computer users and even some those experienced members who may not be all that familiar with Windows Explorer.

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