Windows desktop.
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

People are passionate about how the desktop on your PC or Mac should look. Show someone a cluttered desktop full of files and you’ll probably hear a repulsed gasp. Don’t feel bad about storing files on the desktop. Everyone should do it.

The Desktop Is Not a Launcher

The way we use computers has changed drastically over the years. There was a time when it made sense to use the desktop as your sort of “launcher” for things to do. Nowadays, it’s not necessary to put icons on the desktop. We have better methods for launching apps and finding files.

Think about it: how often do you actually use your desktop? There’s a good chance you launch apps from the Start Menu, Launchpad, taskbar, or dock most of the time. Apps that haven’t been pinned for quick access can easily be found by searching the Start Menu or Launchpad, and the same can be said for files.

A lot of people look at a messy desktop and say, “how can you find anything on there!?” Well, you don’t have to. We have much better ways of finding and launching things on computers now.

It’s Just a Folder

Windows and Mac desktop folders.

Here’s the truth: the desktop is just a folder. Open File Explorer on your Windows PC or Finder on your Mac and you’ll see it plain as day. People act like the desktop is hallowed ground, but it’s really just another area to store stuff.

Personally, I have always used the desktop as a place to store things that I know I won’t need forever. Things like images downloaded from the internet that I want to share with a friend or on social media, files I need for a specific one-time task, or current projects that I don’t want to bury in folders within folders.

I use the desktop as an easily accessible folder, and I think that’s the beauty of it. The fact that it’s the “Desktop” makes it super easy to find anything stored on it. You can quickly view the desktop from anywhere and it’s easy to find it in File Explorer or Finder.

Use It Like a Literal Desktop

The funny thing is I use the desktop like the literal top of a physical desk. When I look around my computer desk, I see an assortment of things that represent what I’m working on at the moment. That’s exactly what my computer desktop is like.

I have a filing cabinet for storing important documents I need to keep, and I have special places for photos as well. On my computer, I have a Documents folder and Photos folder. Not everything in my real life or digital life needs to be stored indefinitely in these locations.

I find I can keep my entire computer and physical workspace tidier if I have somewhere to put temporary things. It’s much easier to clean off a desk or delete all the files from the desktop than to go looking for things in long-term storage.

Look, if a messy desktop gives you anxiety, I’m not going to tell you to store files on it. But if you’re avoiding using the desktop just because it’s the desktop, you should give it a second thought. You might love it.

Want to give it a try? Maybe it’s time to unhide those Windows desktop icons.

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

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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