How to increase productivity by better organizing icons on your Windows desktop [Guide]

When you add lots of shortcuts to your Windows desktop they can get a little disorganized. Sure, you can sort them by name, type and size, but that often isn’t enough. However, with 8Startlauncher you can organize the icons into groups, or categories, and clear up the desktop — helping increase productivity in the process. (And, despite the name, no this does not add a Windows 8-like launcher to your computer.)

The 8Startlauncher software is compatible with the Windows XP, Vista, and 7 platforms. It isn’t officially supported on Windows 8 and 8.1, but it may still work. To download 8Startlauncher, check out their homepage.

Once up and running, right-click Group 1 or Group 2 and click Rename Group (or Add Group Above). Add a suitable title for a group of software packages. For example, if you have lots of game shortcuts on the desktop games might be a suitable group. In the shot below I added groups for browsers, office software, games and folders.


Left-click, drag and drop shortcut icons from the desktop over pertinent 8Startlauncher groups. When you drop an icon, a Windows dialog window opens where you click Yes to remove the shortcut from the Windows desktop. Instead the shortcuts are included in 8Startlauncher as below.


You can also add website shortcuts to 8Startlauncher. Open a browser and website, and then drag and drop the small icon at the left of the address bar (circled red below) to 8Startlauncher. A site shortcut should then be included on 8Startlauncher.Startlauncher3

You can expand, or decrease, the size of the 8Startlauncher. To do so, click Menu > Settings to open the window below. Input a number in the small box where it states, “I like you to be the width of … buttons per row.” 8Startlauncher is then resized so that it can include a larger number of shortcut icons.


Alternatively, reduce the size of the 8Startlauncher icons. Right-click an 8Startlauncher icon, and select Edit Button. That opens the window below from where you can select a smaller icon for the button. Click the check-box circled red and then Change.


8Startlauncher has customizable skins. Click Menu > Change Skin to open the window below. There you can select a few alternatives, and click Change to apply and close the window.


To minimize the 8Startlauncher, click on the Hide option. That minimizes it to the 8Startlauncher System Tray icon. Click on the 8Startlauncher icon to reopen the software.

With the 8Startlauncher you can greatly reduce the number of shortcuts on your desktop, and organize them more effectively. For further details check out this page from the 8Startlauncher website.

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  • [@CJ Cotter] If you’re happy with the way that you have arranged your icons then there is no reason to change. I think True Launch Bar offers more options than available by customising the start menu, but it may be that you don’t need these options and are happy with your setup. My observation after trying quite a few programs (and looking at the option of customising the start menu) is that none of them work the way I wanted. True Launch Bar does – I think because it is so configurable.

    Features I use are: resize the icons to the size I want, and the text to the size I want and the colour of the text to the colour I want. And each group can have different customisations. I have a different number of icons across – in different groups, and the groups themselves are different widths

  • Waldemar

    Over many years I have tried many shortcut handlers and none was as simple, instant, and clean, as the Quick Cliq.
    I was guilty of hogging more, and more programs…until my screen was full!

    Instead of going for the whole story, the bottom line is – I’ve moved all shortcuts to a regular folder, my desktop is free again, and I can now access any program, website, and more with one swipe of mouse regardless of any running application.

    Brilliant…just try it and you will never go back to a forest of icons.
    The best part…it’s free :)

  • CJ Cotter

    [@njwood60] I’ve been aware of True Launch Bar, so I looked at their product page again as a result of your comments, here. My impression of it is still the same.

    Please enlighten me if you feel that I’m mistaken, but it seems to me that True Launch Bar is nothing more than a fancy (bloated) version of Windows Start Menu / Folders.

    Many years ago, I gave a makover to my Start Menu / Folders. I came up with folder categories, and used an icon editor to change their appearance. Now, the program launch links for EVERYthing that I install is organized into one of these folders, including the default ones created by Windows. Only the most frequently used gets a shortcut on the desktop. The categories are:


  • I tried a lot of icon organizers until I finally found True Launch Bar

    It’s not free but it’s worth every cent I paid for it

    You can organise your icons into groups. Each group can be customised separately as well as having sub-groups.

    In some of my groups, I have icons in but other groups I have the text file name – e.g. for groups that are all documents

    I put the “shortcut” to True Launch bar on the task bar rather than on the desktop.

    I found the deficiency in the other icon organisers was that I couldn’t customise the icons / groups the way I wanted, but True Launch Bar has so many customisation options that I reckon it would cater for most people’s preferences.

    It’s frequently on special at BitsDuJour:

    (worth reading the comments there as well as it is very highly regarded – click on the “older comments” link to read all the comments)

    I find sometimes it really is worth paying for software.

  • CJ Cotter

    I should send this article and comments to all of my coworkers. For many of them, their desktops are a sea of program icons. Like 50 to 75 or more!UGGHH!

  • sl0j0n

    Hello, all.
    A desktop loaded w/ icons will slow down Windows. So, some years ago, I came up w/ what I think is a good solution.
    Initially, I used the Quick Launch folder. I created a shortcut to the Quick Launch folder on the desktop, & put all but 2 or 3 icons in that folder. To access them, simply double-click the shortcut, scroll to the icon, & double-click it.
    Later, I simplified it for others. Now, go to My Documents, right-click in it, select New > Folder, click it, & name it shortcuts. Right-click it, & drag it to the desktop, & select “Create shortcut here”. At this point, I like to rename it “shortcuts”, w/out the ” – Shortcut”.
    Double-click it, & when the folder opens, drag the icons into it, except for My Computer & Recycle Bin.
    When programs install icons on the desktop, double-click the shortcuts shortcut, & drag them into the shortcuts folder.
    To access any of the programs, double-click the shortcuts shortcut, scroll to the icon, & double-click it.
    Since Windows auto-sorts the icons alphabetically, the name of the icon is all you need to find the program you want.
    Hopefully helpful.

    Have a GREAT day, neighbors!

  • Ed

    I don’t keep mine in a folder on the desktop, I keep mine in a folder inside my user folder.
    I also do not let every program I install create an icon on the desktop, those programs that I will use infrequently are not allowed to put an icon on the desktop during install, if the option is not there during install the shortcut gets placed in a folder located inside my user folder.
    I do not believe in programs such as the one above or Stardock’s bloatware programs, they are resource hogs and 9 times out of ten are more trouble then they are worth.
    Programs like the one above are usually reserved for the pc novice that doesn’t know any better, anyone with any pc ingenuity know how to stay away from crapolla like this.

  • chucklw

    But even if they’re in a folder on the desktop won’t they use more resources than putting them elsewhere?

  • Ed

    Just more crap to drag your system resources down ….

    How about just grouping your icon according to your needs on the desktop and either deleting or putting in a folder the ones you don’t use? would that be too simple?

  • chucklw

    My question is do these shortcuts still all start on startup?

    I used to use a program called ‘fences’ that categorized and collected different shortcuts. it was very handy, but as more shortcuts were accumulated, my startup times became longer and longer. I now keep a minimum on my desktop and put folders on my c drive under AAAA so they are easy to access and have greatly reduced startup times.