The Windows 10 desktop.

The Windows 10 desktop is more than just a glorified folder—it’s a reflection of your personality. You can decorate it with wallpaper, cover it with your favorite shortcuts, or even play games on it. Here are 10 tips and tricks that will make your desktop experience more useful and fun.

Turn Your Desktop into a Meadow

If you’d like a fun desktop app to bring a slice of tranquility to your Windows 10 experience, try Desktop Meadow by Sam Chiet. It makes flowers grow on your app windows and taskbar, as friendly birds flutter around. You’ll even receive letters in a tiny desktop mailbox. It’s yours to download for free at itch.io, or you can name your own price as a donation to the developer.

RELATED: 'Desktop Meadow' Is Like 'Desktop Goose', but Zen Instead of Chaos

Temporarily Hide or Unhide All Desktop Icons

Click "View," and then click "Show Desktop Icons."

If you like a clean Desktop uncluttered with icons, it’s easy to temporarily hide all of them without actually removing them. Simply right-click anywhere on your desktop, and in the pop-up menu, navigate to View > Show desktop icons. Once toggled off, your icons will be hidden, but you can just as easily bring them back by toggling this again in the right-click menu.

RELATED: How to Hide or Unhide All Desktop Icons on Windows

Create an Invisible Folder on Your Desktop

An invisible folder in Windows 10.

It’s a silly trick, but you can create an invisible folder on your desktop that hides in plain sight. It involves changing the icon of a folder into a “blank” (completely transparent) icon and renaming it to a non-displaying space character. It’s not technically private or secure, but it’s fun.

RELATED: How to Create an Invisible Folder on Your Windows 10 Desktop

Quickly Change the Size of Your Desktop Icons

Large icons on a Windows 10 desktop.

If you’d like to quickly adjust the size of your desktop icons, press Ctrl while scrolling the mouse wheel. If you scroll in one direction, the icons grow larger (probably larger than you’d expect!), but scroll in the other, and they’ll be tiny. Once you find the size you want, release Ctrl and the icons will remain that size.

RELATED: How to Make Windows Desktop Icons Extra Large or Extra Small

Organize Your Desktop with Stardock Fences

Stardock Fences on Windows 10.

If you like to organize files, folders, and shortcuts on your desktop, try Stardock Fences. This utility allows you to arrange icons in groups that you define. You can even let Fences automatically sort your Desktop files into stacks if you prefer.

RELATED: How to Get macOS Mojave-Style Desktop Stacks on Windows

Use Bing’s Daily Photos as Your Desktop Wallpaper

A Bing photo of a bird as a Windows 10 desktop background.

Bing features beautiful photos every day, and Microsoft makes it easy to automatically use them as your desktop wallpaper. Simply download and install the official Bing Wallpaper app, and you’re all set! You’ll have fresh, professional-quality wallpaper every day of the week.

RELATED: How to Get Bing's Daily Photos as Your Wallpaper on Windows 10

Use Virtual Desktops

Virtual Desktops in Windows 10

This doesn’t strictly pertain to the Desktop file space, but you can also use virtual desktops on Windows 10. These are alternate workspaces for your app windows you can switch between quickly.

For example, you could have one Virtual Desktop full of app windows arranged for a particular task, and then switch to a completely clean one without losing your original window layout.

Sadly, you can’t configure multiple pages of Desktop icons.

RELATED: How to Use Virtual Desktops in Windows 10

Fight off a Desktop Goose

Sam Chiet, the creator of Desktop Meadow (see above), also created an unofficial tribute to 2019’s hit, Untitled Goose Game, in the form of a small app called Desktop Goose. It puts a tiny, angry goose on your desktop that will chase your cursor and try to drag it. It also rearranges your windows and even writes you notes.

You can download it for free or send a tip to the developer.

RELATED: The Untitled Goose for Your Desktop is a Terror You Have to Download

Use the Default Windows 10 Wallpapers

The old and new Windows 10 default wallpapers.

If you prefer Windows 10’s older, darker default desktop wallpaper, you can either copy it from an older PC or download it from Imgur.

You can find the Windows default wallpapers in the C:\Windows\Web folder.

RELATED: How to Get Windows 10's Old Default Desktop Background Back

Sync a Windows and Mac Desktop

Synchronizing a Mac and Windows 10 desktop.

Using symbolic links and a local area network, you can synchronize the files on your Mac and Windows desktops. Once you set it up, if you place a file on either desktop, it will automatically show up on the other.

It takes a bit of work to get it configured, but once you do, it works like magic!

RELATED: How to Sync Your Mac and Windows Desktops

Create a Show Desktop Icon on the Quick Launch Bar

Adding a Show Desktop icon to Windows 10

In Windows 10, you can quickly see your desktop at any time if you click the tiny line at the far right of the taskbar. If you’re an old-school Windows fan, though, you can create and drag a Show Desktop icon to the Quick Launch area instead.

Then, next time you want to see your Desktop, just click the shortcut and voilà!

RELATED: How to Move the "Show Desktop" Icon to the Quick Launch Bar or the Taskbar in Windows

The Desktop Adventure Continues

In the Windows 8 era, it seemed like the Desktop might become extinct in favor of touch screen interfaces, like Metro. In the coming years, it’s hard to say how long the desktop-as-file-playpen metaphor will continue in Windows. For now, though, it remains a useful personal space we can customize as we see fit.

As a wise man once said, no two Desktops are exactly alike—and that’s a good thing!

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.