Sort your desktop icons by name, size, item type, or date modified
When all windows are minimized, you see your desktop, and all the files it contains: by default, Windows 7 will sort icons on your desktop by "type" (is it a system icon, a program, a shortcut, a file...), but any folder you create on the desktop, and any file you save to it, will simply be added on the desktop wherever, at the end of the list of icons. But Windows 7 lets you not only manually sort desktop icons (explained in this tutorial), but even lets you automatically sort new icons according to your preferences (the "Auto arrange desktop icons" feature, covered in the next tutorial).
- In this Windows 7 tutorial:
- Manually sort desktop icons
- Sort desktop icons by Name
- Sort desktop icons by Size
- Sort desktop icons by "Item Type" (File Type)
- Sort desktop icons by "Date Modified" (Date Last Modified)
- More sorting fields…
Manually sort your desktop icons (files and folders)
Sorting your desktop icons is easy:
- Minimize all your windows, and right-click on your desktop (between icons)
- The desktop context menu will open: click on the "Sort by" submenu
- The submenu expands, and offers four choices: you can sort your desktop files and folders (icons) by Name, by Size, by Item type, or by Date modified. Choose your sorting order, and Windows 7 will re-arrange your desktop icons based on the sort order you picked: each of these is explained below.
Tip: when you choose to sort your desktop icons one way, it will first sort them in ascending order (A-Z, from smallest to largest, etc.) But if you then follow the same steps, and choose the same sorting order once more, Windows 7 will reverse the sorting order!
Sort desktop icons by Name
This sort will place all your program shortcuts together, and sorted alphabetically; then, display all the folders on your desktop, also displayed in alphabetical order; and, finally, all the files on your desktop, themselves also sorted according to their file name.
Sort desktop icons by Size
This is a useful sort to find all the large files on your desktop, especially if you are running out of space and are looking for the large files you can either delete, or move to an external drive. Since Windows 7 will show the smallest files first, do the same sort again to see the largest files sorted first.
Tip: when you sort your desktop icons by size, folders will not be sorted according to the size of their content; rather, they will be sorted next to program shortcuts, which like folders take virtually no space on your desktop (or hard drive). Keep in mind that some folders may take huge amount of disk space, depending on their content!
Sort desktop icons by "Item Type" (File Type)
Sorting files on your desktop by item type is a very simple way to quickly find a file, whose name you forgot, but whose type you remember (it was a PDF, an Word document...) This is also a useful way to sort desktop icons to file them in folders based on their type (we find this a good organization, since we usually remember the types of most files). Obviously, closely related files should be stored inside a common folder, regardless of their type.
Sort desktop icons by "Date Modified" (Date Last Modified)
Sorting files on your desktop by date last modified means that you can easily find the latest files you worked on, or find a particular file whose name you forgot (since you often remember when you last worked on that file).
More sorting fields: sort your files by other criteria
As we'll explain in a later tutorial, it is also possible to sort your desktop icons by plenty of other criteria; for the meantime, here is a hint: click on the start menu, type "desktop", and hit Enter. The content of your desktop (files and folders) will open in Windows Explorer. Choosing the "Details" view will allow you to sort by many fields (right-click on the column names to add new sorting fields!)up ↑