Originally posted at A Higher Level.
Mac users everywhere love order, simplicity, and style. These traits embody much of Apple's philosophy so it only makes since that Mac users would want their desktop to fall along the same guidelines. Unfortunately too many Mac users have just don't maximize their desktop potential. Its alright, fortunately, there are a few suggestions which will really bring out the best in your desktop and keep you clean and organized.
Even with these tips to truly pimp your desktop it is important to reach deep inside and pull out your own creative instincts. If you have trouble doing this don't worry about it there are tools out there to help.
There are two basic tips I have for getting inspired. Something that really helps me is creating some sort of creativity clipboard. All you need to do is just gather a bunch of stuff together which looks great to you visually. Just go around the web and find anything that strikes your eye. When you put it all together you will have some idea about what direction you want to take in the beautification of your desktop.
Secondly, I like to use Flickr to see what other people are doing. There are so many great screen shots out there by some pretty clever people. Make sure you check for tags on the photos. Usually pictures of desktops have tags saying what a particular program is or what an icon is standing for, etc. Also, scroll down the the comments section. Often people have questions about wallpapers or icons or whatever the the author's answers can help you with your project as well. Additionally, if you would like to leave a comment most users are helpful and prompt with their responses.
After getting the creative juices flowing the first step to pimping out your desktop is finding a suitable wallpaper picture. There are literally hundreds of thousands of sites dedicated to this so I won't waist my time and yours listing a million links. However, my biggest tip for finding the best wallpaper sites is simply searching for them on Digg.com. If you do a simple search setting the criteria to look for the most popular submissions then you should have no trouble finding a few good quality sites with some stunning wallpaper designs.
And just because I can here is another resource.
So no beautification process would be complete without a bit of iconography. The ability to have customizable icons is part of what makes being a Mac user just so fun. Shortly I will offer a list of a few great resources but your really can't get the most out of this without Panic's Candybar. Its well worth the $13.00 for the ability to have custom icons for all the apps that usually don't allow themselves to be switched out.
With that in mind, there is still icons out there that you can freely place on your desktop or in your doc. Shawn from The Fight Spot places custom folder icons on his doc to increase productivity. Check out this post to see how he did it.
Finally, as promised, here is a couple of links for some great icons:
Alright, now by this point its time to do some spring cleaning. You just got that great new background and overhauled your HD icon, but what's the use if it is all cluttered with other junk laying around your desktop. Well here are a couple of quick tips to get clean and organized and stay that way.
1. Derek at 5thirtyone posted a great suggestion to keep your desktop clean when downloading online. Here's what he has to say:
"Much of the desktop clutter that I find myself dealing with pertain to miscellaneous internet downloads. These very files are often temporary and soon find their way into the trash. Assign a specific "Download" folder for Safari or Firefox to dump files differentiating disposable files from the rest. Check out Hazel if you're interested in automating the process of maintaining a clutter free Desktop."
*Tip: Folders on your desktop essentially act as open applications which can slow down your computers speed.
2. Also, it is important to find a place for everything. Most people want to have their icons on their desktop to find them quickly before launch. Yeah I'm talking to you new Mac users. Instead use the dock as your go-to spot for launching apps, or use the more popular approach by launching your apps with QuickSilver. It saves time, effort, and keeps your desktop clean.
*Tip: Don't go over board here. Sometimes it is better to keep a few icons on the desktop that are frequently used. If you want to do this and not make the mistake of trashing the wrong alias then check out this post.
3. Minimize, minimize, and then minimize some more. A common error some newbie mac users run into is that they want their apps to take up to more precious desktop space while running. Cut down the size of your windows, send passive apps (iTunes, RSS aggregators, etc) to the dock, and keep your desktop visible. Macs are set up to be powerhouses with the ability to run a lot of programs developers might need. Keep those windows small and you won't be pressing F9-11 so often.
*Tip: Until Leopard's "Spaces" arrives check out virtual desktops to keep your desktop clutter free. Having multiple work spaces really helps me have piece of mind about my desktop organization and also allows me to be more productive. You can find this type of application free here or purchase a more powerful version here.
With all the available tweaks that Apple allows with OSX there are still a few options that you won't typically have yet might want. For example, I quickly got fed up that I could only position my Doc on the left, right, or in the center. If you are like me and want more options then I suggest you download Onyx. This is a seriously powerful app which has much more useful applications than just moving your doc around, but it still allows for much more tweaking than Apple offers.
Can you think of any other ways to pimp out the desktop? What's your best tip? Post a comment and let me know!
Also, when your done working out your desktop go online to Flickr and post a screenshot to let others see and get inspired.