Bob SchwartzIcon Clutter? Be a Groupie! An Icon Groupie, that is.
by Bob Schwartz

Is your desktop display so cluttered with icons that it is hard to find your program?

Are you like me and have to try out many of these wonderful new free programs?  And then let them lapse because either they don’t fill a critical need, OR, something better comes along.

If so, help is on the way and, it is in your hands.  There are several strategies that may work.  First, you could group icons into groups of related ones with the most important ones on the periphery of each group as:



There is a problem here.  When a new program is installed, you will have to enlarge a group.  Pretty soon the groups get so large, there is no space between them and you are back at square ONE.  One large FULL SCREEN.  Reducing the size of the icons and the font won’t work.  There is just more clutter and it is harder to read.

There is another option that may work for you.  Have you heard of Group Icons?  A group icon is one icon that contains a number of (your) related icons within it.  Common ones, for example, might be: Word Processing,  Photo Processing,  Utilities,  Security Pgms,  Backup programs,  Media Play, etc.  Titles are up to you.

To illustrate, the Word Processing group icon might be set up to contain Microsoft Word, Notepad, Word Pad, Corel Word Perfect, etc.  Here, where we had 4 icons, now we have one!

How do you do it?  It is amazingly easy.  We will illustrate.

If you can find a blank spot on your cluttered desktop, right click and, on the menu showing, select NEW, and then FOLDER.  Then, type the name you want for this group icon and hit ENTER.  The group icon with the group name will appear on your screen.  If you use Windows Explorer, this folder, that the group icon on the screen refers to, may be found under DESKTOP.

Now, all you have to do is to drag an icon you want to include in the group to the group icon and drop it (let go) ON the group icon.  Keep doing this until all the related program icons have been dropped into the group icon.

Now create the next group icon and collect its icons.  Then the next, etc.
Pretty soon, your screen will be pretty scraggly.  Now you can rearrange your desktop.

Pretty neat, huh?  Your screen is neat, simple, well organized.  If you need to take an icon out of a group, just click on a group icon, resize the group display to less than full screen size (middle block at the upper right of the screen, to show part of the main desktop display), click on the desired icon and drag it out of the group and drop it on an unused part of the main desktop screen.

If you are not happy with the appearance of the default group icon, the icon can be changed.  But that is a challenge for you to explore and meet.

Last, for programs you want to keep but rarely use, you can delete the icon but not the program.  The program will still be available via START/All Programs. Right click on the icon and select DELETE.  If you want to delete the program, go to Control Panel and select ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS and follow the instructions.  Such pruning should be done periodically, e.g.monthly.

Bob Schwartz is a HAL-PC member, retired EE, 14 patents, technical writer, active in civic affairs: President, Brays Bayou Association; Vice President, Marilyn Estates Civic Association; Correspondence Secretary with the Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy. Contact him at