I personally like to keep my desktop clean with minimal icons on it and just change the wallpaper from time to time. After all, what is the point of having pretty wallpapers on your desktop if you are going to have ugly icons all over it? So in order to do this, while at the same time retaining high productivity, I classify all the frequently used shortcut icons into groups and have them as a pop-up menu (an additional toolbar) I can access from the windows taskbar. I find that my productivity with the computer remains the same, but my desktop is much neater and cleaner when the icons have been moved to pop-up menus (additional toolbars).
These additional toolbars are similar to the quick-launch toolbar which comes as a default toolbar in Windows.
Adding a toolbar to the windows taskbar is very simple and can be achieved as follows
1.) Add all the shortcuts you want together into a folder.
2.) If you want shortcuts to be grouped together into sub-sets, then add a sub-folder with shortcuts within it
3.) Right click on the taskbar and choose Toolbars>New Toolbar.
4.) Navigate to the folder required and then click on “Select Folder”.
5.) The toolbar should appear on the taskbar and will function similar to the Quick Launch Toolbar.
6.) In order to remove/disable a particular toolbar, right-click on the taskbar, choose Toolbars and then remove the tick mark against that particular toolbar.
Note: I normally group all the shortcuts into various sub-folders and put all the sub-folders together under a root-folder which I place within My Documents. I then create a toolbar which points to the root-folder. I tend to keep the quick launch toolbar on the left next to the Start button, and add additional toolbars on the right next to the System tray. I use the space in-between for tabs of open windows/currently running applications.
I find this method highly efficient as I can use the available space effectively and I also know exactly where all my shortcut files are and can modify them if required with the change reflecting in the toolbar immediately.
Example of a Toolbar
The screenshot above indicates a toolbar named “Unused Links” which was created in the above fashion. It contains all the links I don’t want cluttering my desktop and makes them readily available. The classification into groups facilitates easy retrieval in case I need anything in future. As described earlier, I have it on the right extreme of the windows taskbar, adjacent to the system tray.