Perfect Windows desktop?
Fluff post here, but I think I may have discovered the perfect desktop layout. Read on if you're interested. (Updated 1/22/2002)
First, you have to have a wide monitor like I'm using at work. This thing does 1920x1200 @ 76Hz which is nice to say the least. This is the hardest requirement for the perfect desktop since it runs about $1900 (street). If you don't have one, then you'll have to use a smaller background to compensate.
Find a cool background that is 1600x1200 in size. Here's the one I'm using now. There are lots of nice ones in the Digital Blasphemy gallery (and in the user gallery hosted there). A background that size should give you a border of 160 pixels on both the right and the left.
Now, set your taskbar on the right side of the screen-- looks a little funny at first, but being able to see all the program titles is great. Size it to take up the blank space to the right of the background (roughly 160 pixels wide).
Place your instant message contact list window (like Trillian or AIM) on the left-hand border of the screen. Hopefully, it can dock there like the taskbar does. Size the window to take up the blank space to the left of the background (roughly 160 pixels wide).
Now if you're using Windows 98 or later (or Windows 2000), you can create a quick launch toolbar (right-click on the taskbar, choose "Toolbar" and then choose "Quick Launch") that you can dock to the bottom of the screen. Detach it from the task bar by dragging the beveled edge control on the left or top of the toolbar. You may have to drag it to the desktop first, then drag it down to the screen border to dock there. I like to make mine auto-hide (right-click on the toolbar, and choose the "Auto-Hide" option) so it doesn't take away from the background graphic. Fill that toolbar with your favorite applications. You can drag and drop shortcuts right to it.
Other useful toolbars that are useful for that bottom panel are "Desktop" and a toolbar of your Internet Favorites. I've also added an address-bar down there for launching a URL.
Sometimes I hide my desktop icons by making it an "Active" desktop and choosing the option to hide icons (available through the desktop's right-click, "Active Desktop" menu). This leaves the background itself completely visible and I prefer that to a desktop cluttered with icons. It's easy to toggle them back on if you need to work with your icons.
That's it! It may not be the perfect desktop for you, but I like it. What's your favorite?
Update: I had a request for a screen shot of my desktop. I'm not going to upload a 1920x1200 image since I don't want to incur the bandwidth for that, so I created an image that highlights the features and cleanliness of the desktop layout. Here it is:
Here's a summary of each of the corners:
- The only icons on my desktop right now are: My Computer, My Network Places, My Documents and My Music (well, the Recyle Bin too, but that's in the lower-right corner). Trillian is my instant message client and is always on the screen, docked to the left hand side of the screen.
- My task bar is docked to the right hand side of the screen. The panel is wide enough for most window titles to be fully visible.
- On the lower-left corner, we have a quick-launch toolbar and a couple of additional toolbars that have been attached to it on the far left side. "Desktop" is there to give me access to desktop items, but it also conveniently auto-expands things like My Computer, My Documents, etc. into sub-menus. So I can navigate to any file on my computer using this menu-- especially handy for "My Documents". The "Favorites" panel lets me quickly launch any of my favorite web sites even if my browser isn't open. This bottom toolbar is set to auto-hide, so I only see it when I need it.
- On the lower-right corner, we see the system tray icons and yet another panel that is attached to the quick-launch toolbar docked at the bottom-- "Address". If I need to navigate to a directory on my hard drive, I can just type it in and press enter to pull it up. Or I can enter a URL to browse to a web site. Or I can do "mailto:email@example.com" to fire off a quick e-mail.
With the layout you see above, I have a working desktop space of 1600x1198 (the auto-hide feature uses about 2 pixels). Not bad for a single monitor.