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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis Desktop
Scenario: You have a Desktop with too many things on it and you haven't got it (and probably don't want it) to snap to any grid or arrange by any kind. You have icons all over the show, some overlapping others and there's no way you're going to actually move things off the Desktop. OK, so maybe you don't, but a client of mine does.

Requirement: Because things are so higgledy-piggledy, my client couldn't find a particular file in amongst the godforsaken mess. When I showed her the 'Arrange by Kind' option, she hated how "...inflexible and un-Mac-like" it was. So I needed a one time way to arrange the files in some order (so she could find what she needed), and then go back to letting her move them about without constraint.

Solution: You may think: "Oh, just choose 'Arrange by Kind' then 'Arrange by None,' and things will be fine." No, they won't -- when you do, the icons will go straight back to their original disorganized state when you do. The trick is to arrange by kind, then by grid, then by none. So here's how to do it.

In 10.4.x, go to the Desktop and press Command-J, tick the box next to 'Keep arranged by,' and choose your method. Then tick the box next to 'Snap to Grid' ('Keep arranged by' will automatically untick), then finally untick 'Snap to Grid.' In 10.5.x, go to the Desktop and press Command-J, pick one option (other than 'None') from the 'Arrange by' pop-up menu, then choose 'Snap to Grid,' and finally set the 'Arrange by' pop-up to 'None'. Using these methods in 10.4 and 10.5, the icons will stay in their newly-arranged order, but they will be freely movable again.

A word of warning. If you subsequently choose an 'Arrange by' option (in either 10.4.x or 10.5.x) then unset arranging without going through 'Snap to Grid,' the icons will fly back to their original manic positions. Let me just end by saying there's really no substitute for a tidy desktop -- not just because your Mac will run faster (to an extent), but if you organize your files sensibly, you'll run faster.
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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis
Authored by: barbarella on Jan 16, '08 07:43:11AM

Is it me, but opening a Finder window, clicking on the Desktop in the sidebar will give you a list of all files on the desktop. And the list is sortable in many ways.



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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis
Authored by: shdw on Jan 16, '08 08:08:27AM

That was exactly my first thought and also "why going thru such sophisticated procedure ?".

I've even seen a friend putting a shortcut (alias) to his Desktop on his Desktop!

A question remains in my mind. How has the desktop ever been productive ?

It is certainly a "good" temporary location to throw WIP tho.



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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis
Authored by: woodgie on Jan 16, '08 08:24:06AM

True, but the person wanted to access the files from the desktop, not from a window.

Not everyone's way of working, but it is her way of working.



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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis
Authored by: patch1103 on Jan 16, '08 08:03:50AM

So how is this different from just selecting View -> Arrange by... -> Kind (CTRL-CMD-5) from the Finder menu bar? It performs the same action -- one time arrangement of Desktop items by kind -- without having to go into the View options and perform those extra steps.



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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis
Authored by: woodgie on Jan 16, '08 08:28:36AM

Fair enough, I stand corrected!

A much quicker way to achieve the same goal. And without the bad news of icons going back to their original manic position.

My mistake was thinking that menu option turned on snapping without actually testing it, it doesn't.

This is a much better way of doing things than I mentioned and all you children out there should be doing it this way, not my way, OK? :)



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Zero files on Desktop is best
Authored by: jscotta on Jan 16, '08 08:12:57AM

I keep my Desktop completely clean and empty. My reasoning is that it is a very quick to get to quick drop and temp file storage place. Wit Spotlight, finding files/applications that are put into their proper place (Documents and Applications folders) are very fast and easy to find. That leaves my Desktop clean for the task at hand. And when I drag/drop files to the Desktop, I can very quickly access them for whatever I need them for.

As an added bonus, when I go to clean my Desktop off, I can make decisions about the file immediately. Do I keep it or do I trash it. That keeps unneeded stuff off my computer. As an added benefit, I get to actually enjoy my Desktop Picture!

---
Windows because I have to. OS X because I want to.



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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis
Authored by: stokessd on Jan 16, '08 09:09:16AM

Is it just me or is the solution obvious: Don't be such a slob...



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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis
Authored by: mwayne on Jan 16, '08 10:38:12AM

I support 20 users in a business environment. To say that a number of them have messy desktops is an understatement. Literally dozens and dozens of file - some organized, some haphazard. Every time I try to get them to put files in the appropriate place in their Documents Folder, or on the Server, I get the proverbial "F Off" - albeit in less vulgar terms.

There are utilities to make the Desktop invisible, or change permissions so they can't write to it, but I'd have a revolt on my hands



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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis
Authored by: woodgie on Jan 16, '08 11:35:06AM

It is, hence my ending sentence.

However, some people work in... less than optimal ways. I even had one client who insisted on keeping important documents in the trash. His reasoning? "I MIGHT want to throw them away at some stage."

Until he lost a database of customer names and addresses, that is...

The thing is, that you can advise people on the best way to do things but at the end of the day, unless you're a corporate IT department you'll have a hell of a hard time laying down the law, even then it's not exactly easy.



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TIAN!
Authored by: rwmitchell on Jan 16, '08 11:48:42AM
I even had one client who insisted on keeping important documents in the trash. His reasoning? "I MIGHT want to throw them away at some stage."
My gosh! That is pure genius! Why wait? Throw everything away now and save the trouble of doing it later. This takes every self-help how-to-get-organized guide to the extreme! I'm speechless. That's going to be my new motto: TIAN - throw it away now

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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis
Authored by: Kernos on Jan 16, '08 06:49:40PM

I require a cluttered desktop! Don't mess with my piles!!

If I need to find something lost in the clutter, I personally click on the Desktop in DragThing's Disk Dock. For those without DragThing it would be simpler to put an alias of the Destop ƒ in the Dock or just open a new Finder window and click on Desktop in list view and sort as you like.



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