How to Declutter Your Computer

In a recent post, I shared the important of completing a digital declutter and now it is time to dive into the first place of digital clutter… your computer.

Nearly every adult deals with computers in some capacity throughout their daily life and as a result, our computers are often cluttered and disorganized.

Why You Should Declutter Your Computer

A cluttered computer might seem like a silly thing to worry about but let me ask you this:

Have you ever been frustrated looking for a document or folder on your computer?

Have you ever spent more time than you’d like searching for a picture but can’t remember what you saved it as?

Computer that needs a computer declutter

If you can answer yes to either of these questions or if you’ve been frustrated staring at your computer, then you, my friend, could benefit from a computer declutter.

Decluttering your computer works just like decluttering our homes. It is a process that will rid our digital space of the unnecessary things that take up space and use our energy.

Decluttering your computer will get rid of all the unnecessary stuff that slows down your computer and makes finding what you need difficult.

Simply put, a decluttered computer will work better for you and cause you less stress and anxiety when you are working.

Please note: I am an avid PC user and while many of these tips will work for Mac users, some of them may need to be adjusted to fit Mac computers.

Steps to Declutter Your Computer

1. Clean Up Your Desktop

Your desktop is the first thing you see when you open your computer so keeping it tidy is important.

Start by deleting all those pesky shortcuts!

Every program on your computer will prompt you to save a shortcut on your desktop but they aren’t necessary.

Delete them and instead pin your most commonly used programs to your taskbar at the bottom of your computer. This will allow you to quickly access your programs without having the visual clutter of a desktop full of icons.

Next, begin sorting the files on your desktop into groups by type. Save each type to a folder. For example: put all your pictures into a folder on your desktop titled “PICTURES“.

Here are a few other categories you might come across: Kids’ school stuff, tax information, business-related documents, and so on.

While you are sorting your desktop, be sure to delete anything you come across that you no longer need. These items will go into your recycling bin so be sure to empty your recycling bin when you are finished.

2. Set Up Umbrella Folders on Your Desktop

The folders on your computer are the means for organizing your documents.

Create a folder system that minimizes clutter and maximizes organization by starting with what I call your Umbrella folders on the desktop.

Umbrella folders are your broad category folders that live on your desktop and that will house your more detailed folders. Limit your umbrella folders to 1-3 folders so your desktop does not become crowded again.

Computer declutter and desktop organization

Here are examples of Umbrella Folders

  1. Documents
  2. Media
  3. Business
  4. Each Person’s Name if the computer is shared

For me personally, my desktop includes only two folders: Documents (for everything non-business-related) and TWPM (my business-related documents).

Within each of these umbrella folders, there are more folders that further organize the related documents and media.

Once you are inside your umbrella folders, you can further organize your documents and media as detailed as you would like.

3. Delete Unnecessary Files and Folders

You’ve already worked through your desktop files and icons, but now it is time to sort through any other files and folders you might have.

Take time to sort through every folder and put them into the appropriate umbrella folder.

Then work through every folder to make sure you delete any files you no longer need.

4. Use Detail When Naming Your Deeper Folders (and Files)

As I mentioned above, your umbrella folders are a broad folder and so the name is likely not very detailed. But as you go inside your umbrella folders, your folders and files need to be named in more detail.

For instance, in my Documents umbrella folder, there are several other folders. To make sure that I am organizing my files correctly I need to title these folders with great detail. Here are a few examples of what I have: taxes, homeschool, birthday parties, house documents, etc.

Within each of these folders are the associated media and documents.

Depending on the nature of your files, you may require more than one folder. For instance, my taxes folder includes information for several years so it is important that each year has its own folder.

For items such as pictures, I recommend using as much detail as possible in your folder names. This includes dates and descriptions.

well labeled pictures

Related: How to Organize Your Digital Pictures and Videos

The same tip is important when naming your files. No more silly names or “to print” or “blah blah“. Your time is valuable and if you want to be able to find these files later, you need to name them in a way that makes finding them easy.

Additionally, naming files well means you won’t have to open and close documents to see what they are. The file name will tell you all you need to know.

5. Make Your Desktop Image Something You Love

Now that your desktop is tidy and you can actually see the picture, pick a picture that brings you joy.

Maybe it is a picture of your family or your dream vacation destination. No matter what it is, make sure it makes you happy when you see it.

As you work through decluttering your computer comment below if you find this tutorial helpful!


Computer view to discuss a computer declutter

Are you looking for more guidance for finally clearing out the clutter?

Click below to join my Clear the Clutter course! I will guide you through clearing your whole home in just 30 days!


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