Monday, February 02, 2009

Is my desktop too cluttered?

I have students stopping by my office all the time saying hello, asking questions, etc. Almost all of them freak-out when they see my computer desktop as pictured below.


What really gets them is my task bar: two rows of icons, many of them browser-related. In each browser I usually have 2-4 tabs open.

So how do I find anything?

I try to keep my left-most browser icon set to my email, calendar, and RSS/Atom reader. The next browser holds my blog, Blackboard, and Easel (class grading system). The other browser windows are open to a number of web pages related to my work. I realize that I could group multiple instances of browsers into a single button on the task bar, but I hate doing that. Beyond that, the rest is a hodge-podge collection of whatever app I need open: Visual Studio, Eclipse, Putty, Firefox, Chrome, IE, Notepad, Word, Excel, Adobe Reader, WinEdt, and iTunes.

Because I teach 4 classes and work on research, I am constantly having to which from one task to another. I've tried virtual desktop software, but I often need to bounce between unrelated windows which I can't have open in multiple desk tops. Then I'm left bouncing from one virtual desktop to the next, trying to find what I'm looking for. It usually ends up being more trouble than it's worth.

So this is how I operate. It looks ridiculous, but I make it work. By the way, this is also close to how my real desktop looks.

So am I alone on this, or do others have an equally cluttered computer desktop?

P.S. Dear Microsoft- Why can't I move the icons in my task bar? It would be quite helpful if I could reorder them at times.