I don’t think most of us start out with the goal to have a desktop like this:
Over time we get lazy and drop attachments on our desktop. It becomes our dumping ground. At first it is only a few documents. But over time they seem to replicate over night. You actually spend more time looking for documents and this clutter is a huge distraction. If you want to have a beautiful and distraction free desktop, here are the steps to Desktop Zero (original idea comes from James Zhang):
Create an Inbox. This can be a folder on your desktop named “Inbox.” (How to create a folder)
Change all your “Download” links to this “Inbox” folder. This is very simple to do and will work with most mail applications and internet browsers. With the Mail application open, Go to the menu bar and choose Mail/Perferences/General: Downloads folder:
Open Safari, Go to the menu bar and choose Safari/Perferences/General: Save Downloaded files to:
Once you have done this select all the documents on your desktop and drag them into your new folder “Inbox.”
At some point you will need to review your “Inbox” and decide what all those documents mean to you. I suggest setting up a set time each week to review and clean up this folder. If you don’t review this “Inbox” you end up with the same disorganization that you had on the desktop, but now it just resides in a folder.
And last, remove all application icons from your dock. Select the dock icon you would like to remove, click and hold, follow the menu choices. This doesn’t delete the applications, it just removes them from the dock:
You will now have a clean, free of distractions Desktop Zero:
Sometimes we need a little help with this process of Desktop Zero. As shown in the video I use three programs to automate this process. (See below) You don’t need these applications for Desktop Zero. In fact, you can do all this manually.
Here is the manual, non-tech/Free version:
1. You can use “Spotlight Search” that is built into the new Mac operating system for opening applications.
2. Click and drag documents into your “Inbox.” Point all downloads to this folder, as explained above.
3. Remove dock icons for a clean and focused working environment, as explained above.
4. You can turn off all menu bar applications in the System Preferences, for a clean, uncluttered menu bar.
The benefits of Desktop Zero are not just looking organized. Just like your physical desk, everything in order doesn’t mean you are organized and effective. The point is to be focused on one task and have less distractions.
A more technical approach with automation and $cost.
Here is my desktop setup using the three applications in the video: (By the way, these three applications do way more automation than I am demonstrating.)
Bartender-hide and show menu bar apps.
Hazel-automate actions for folders and more.
Alfred-Create custom workflows and searches. Also on iOS.
Thanks for letting me share one way to create an environment with focus and less distractions. Together we can get more important things done. Please share your ideas or ask questions in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you. Keep the faith, GB
Brett Nord says
Hey Greg, thanks for this vid! Can you share two things? 1) How to get the inbox icon? and 2) where to get that serene wallpaper image? 😉 thanks!
greg brown says
Thanks Brett for your comment. I have created a short document for creating this new “Inbox” folder. This includes a link for the “Inbox” icon. Here is the process: Create a Custom Icon Folder. If you already know how to customize a folder icon the link to the icon graphic is here: Jollyicons The desktop wallpaper image is a photo I took myself one morning walking on the Coastal Walk here in Sydney. I am happy to share this with anyone here: Desktop GB. Thanks again Brett for connecting. Let me know if you need anything else. Take care, Greg
Brett Nord says
Great info! Thanks so much Greg.