Stop using the Desktop!


Puny Member
The desktop is a concept who's time never was. I've been using decked-out macs since 1986 and find that 90% of my time was spent arranging windows to avoid obscuring the desktop.

In OS X I have managed to avoid using the desktop completely. Instead I have a Downloads directory which is usually open in one of my regular file browsers. It's easier to reveal and I have far more freedom when arranging windows. The only problem is not all apps obey the Internet Config download folder setting, so I have to set each app manually. Hopefully this will change.

Fellow mac users, the desktop is a curse from the early days of the mac when the MultiFinder was a novel hack. If you train your brain to stop using it you'll save loads of time and effort.

BTW anybody know how to prevent removable media showing up on the desktop?
it is in the desktop and dock prefs... no?

im not sure if i agree with you on the cons of the desktop.

until the dock becomes capable of being hierchial and truly useful... the classic OS way of doing things will have to be here.

not pining for the old days UI, here... just not sure if the news days UI is much better, yet.
I have to agree with strobe here, the Desktop is not entirely necessary. With the addition of favorites and quick jump buttons to the finder, I often find it quicker and more convenient to pop up a finder window ( actually) and go from there. This allows me to keep files organized better. However, I am still using a puny little 15 inch monitor, so my desktop is severely obscured. A larger monitor may change my opinion slightly.

By the way, if you don't want removable media popping up on your desktop, have a look in the "Dock and Desktop Preferences..." panel under "Disks".

I run two monitors, one 17" one 16" the 17" running at 1280*1024. I don't think your opinion would change at all with a larger resolution. The freedom one gets when not constantly trying to keep something in the background visible extends to any resolution.

BTW in MacOS 9 I've also tried to stop using the Desktop. The 'Drives' menu when using ACTION Utilities helps a lot, I don't have to keep my drive icons (usually 7-10 of them) visible.
The big advantage of the desktop is that it's *always* there. New users can get very disconcerted when they start up their computer and just see a 'blank' screen. The OSX dock doesn't 100% fix this, since it can be hidden.

I do think having volumes on the desktop is more or less useless, but it's a good place to stick a few document or application aliases, and I often use it as a sort of reminder system.

Historical note: back in the days of black + white compact macs, the right ~80 pixels of the screen was considered 'sacred' - apps would never place windows or zoom them there, specifically to avoid covering up the disk icons.
I too use the desktop as a work area. To eliminate the desktop is to waste screen real estate.

Endian wrote:
"New users can get very disconcerted when they start up their computer and just see a 'blank' screen."

But for new users the Dock is not hidden. Apple needs to change the Smiley Face to a more intuitive icon (especially one that follows their icon guidelines). If the Dock confuses a new user - then they certainly will not know to double-click on that little square in the upper-right corner of the screen.

Rinse wrote
"until the dock becomes capable of being hierchial and truly useful... the classic OS way of doing things will have to be here. "

I click once on the smiley face and a bi-directional single click navigation window appears. Hierarchical mouse tracking seems more difficult to me.

Endian wrote:
"Historical note: back in the days of black + white compact macs, the right ~80 pixels of the screen was considered 'sacred' "

Man, those were the days. Programming the Mac was simple back then.

Sorry kids.. But the desktop won\'t likely be outmoded for a while. I agree that the auto-placing of files in X is spiffy, but I also agree with the comment about \'screen real estate.\' It\'s just too much space to be wasted. But, it\'s also great to have the stuff you use but don\'t want cluttering your pretty little Desktop pic in the dock... Like our last user\'s braggy remark about \'7 drives\'...

About the dock... Comments, opinions, plugins? I actually prefer it to the Windows \'00 Start menu. 50-some-odd billion menus popping up from one start button somehow isn\'t quite \'user-friendly.\' I\'ve seen retro plugs; one to re-add the apple menu, but where the hell are the custom dock apps?

If you want to talk about the Dock make another thread, this is about the Desktop dammit |-)

Removing the Desktop is NOT a waste of screen real estate. When you don\'t use the Desktop you have MORE real estate to put whatever you want in it\'s place!

The question is what you do with your desktop space, and there is nothing the Desktop can do which something else can\' you don\'t have to keep it uncovered. This is why I love Drag Strip because it takes virtually no space and it can\'t be covered up.

BTW anybody else notice that the CGI on this site is totally screwed up? grr

The desktop did have its time. Back before multitasking or even hard disks, the Desktop as a starting point, made sense.

Apple made the right move to move the user\'s starting point into a floating tool-bar like thing. It does not get obscured and represents a single location.

The desktop, although obscurable, represents useful real estate. A Windowing environment is not strictly 2 dimensional. Should we adopt Windows 1.0 standards and only have tiled non-overlapping windows? The desktop is an ever-existing larger-than-life Finder window.

I still use the desktop as a dumping ground, scratch folder, reminder location and etc. It is more than just a possible starting point.

Right, so we should all go damn Windows on ourselves and have \"Active Desktops\" with spiffy things like HTML coding and moving images. Or, a home website. Aww, who cares; it\'s just obscured by windows anyway forgodssakes! I\'m keeping my Hard Drive icon there!
>I\\\'m keeping my Hard Drive icon there!
And that is a valid option. I did for a while but found I never used the icons.

Please don\'t even suggest MacOS X adopt the Active Desktop |-)
I don\'t totally understand the point of this thread. If you don\'t like and don\'t use the desktop that is fine, more power to ya. My desktop has about 200 files on it, i can hardly see my background picture and can\'t find a file on it by simply looking. Yet i am able to open anything on the desktop in a second by using the keyboard and the dekstop can nearly always be quickly and easily brought into focus (so that you can type the name of a file to access) unlike a window. These points have all been mentioned already though, so back to my reason for don\'t use the desktop because you don\'t find it as useful as other tools availabe, do you just want apple, as well as other os developers, to make the desktop dead space that does nothing? I don\'t shutdown my mac, maybe apple should consider removing that option...besides, killing the power is faster
Yeah - I hate using the desktop for dnd operations, but until the finder gets an openstep-style shelf (I\\\'m hoping that eidolon get NeXplorer ported fairly soon) I really can\\\'t avoid it - having a second finder window open kinda defeats the object imo...
Well then iRock,
why in Zeus\'s butthole are you reading this thread? ;-p

Heh heh. And I know how easy it is to mess up your desktop--it took some careful re-training and my organizationally minded girlfriend to re-organize my files in system 9; but I\'m finding it far eaiser in OS X. Some tools that are missing from X that mught keep the desktop a little cleaner are customizable drawers for the sides of the screen (like the tabs in 9) and a mini-toolbar to take up all that wasted space on the right side of the lil apple in X\'s menu bar.

aside from the crummy \"active desktop\" (also known as the \'crash test desktop\' on Windows computers), some other phrases from the often snooty and esoteric Windows world: Desktop Wallpaper, rollout pop-up menus, and the Start button... What the hell is that thing anyway; what are we \'starting\'?
Originally posted by Agnt_Mulder
Well then iRock,
why in Zeus\\\'s butthole are you reading this thread? ;-p

hehe, you gotta love \"The Rock\", nice quote. ok, i guess i need to say something about the desktop now

the original purpose of the desktop was to navigate through your computer, however this its primary function today. I think apple realized this and didn\'t put the hard drive and trash can on the desktop for this reason. However, i still think the desktop serves an important purpose. the drawers and all that are great, although i\'m not one of those really anal people who sits around organizing stuff so it\'s easy to get to. ok, i\'m done now, unless agnt_mulder says another good quote that i have to give him props for
If you like to obsessively organize things why not a Drop Drawers drawer?

If you want something which is easily brought into focus why not a Drop Drawers drawer?

Anything is better than the Desktop |-p

And no, I do not think the desktop ever served a purpose. It was created before MacOS had a hierarchical file system |-p

The non-hierarchical file system still had the concept of folders. You just couldn't have files with the same name within the whole file-system. The Finder gave an illusion of hierarchy. In a visually-hierarchical, non-multitasking system the desktop served its purpose very well.

in response to strobe's obsession with drop drawers...

The desktop is not intrusive on your screen space like drop drawers by having floating windows and while it is possible for the desktop to be completely hidden this case is very rare. you can access the desktop without having a huge ass drawer take over your screen, and can easily get at the file you want by typing its name (i don't know if this is true in drop drawers or not). its the best damn temporary folder i've ever seen and can imagine
as of March 24 you could drag ~/Library/Desktop/ to the dock & access it that way ;)

I'm drooling over OSX all over again
>it is possible for the desktop to be completely hidden this case is very rare

Sure as hell not on my iBook. Any single application can totally obscure the desktop - which I find very common.