PC Applications forum

General discussion

desktop icons

by JmsEmBer-2134831014221219 / September 8, 2007 10:10 PM PDT

Please help me understand a basic issue.

Can you delete any icon on your desktop, whether it has a shortcut arrow symbol or not, without affecting any related programs: toolbars, .exe files (Do these just install the program and then you should delete them?) or whatever?

I just downloaded an update to Google Earth. There are 2 new icons on my desktop for this, one has the arrow indicating a shortcut and one does not.

I would prefer to deal with them directly instead of allowing a wizard to put them in an unused icon file. When you delete a shortcut icon you get a message that you are only deleting the icon, not the program itself.

xp home sp2 build 2600 dell e510/5150

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: desktop icons
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: desktop icons
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
That depends ...
by Kees Bakker / September 8, 2007 10:22 PM PDT
In reply to: desktop icons

on what it is.

The most likely things to find on the desktop:
1. Shortcuts to other files or folders or a location on the Internet. If you know how to open them and don't use that particular shortcut, they can safely be deleted.
2. Folders you put there yourself (right click>New Folder). If you delete those, they are gone, including their contents.
3. Files you put there yourself, including downloaded files (if you told your browser to put them on the desktop). If you delete those, they are gone also.

Having a look at the properties of the icon (right click) or in your Desktop folder (Documents and Settings\<username>\Desktop, use Detail view) helps a lot to determine what it is.

Once you know what it is, you have to know if it is safe to delete it. That's a different issue.


Collapse -
Thank you ! + a follow-up
by JmsEmBer-2134831014221219 / September 8, 2007 11:13 PM PDT
In reply to: That depends ...

Thank you for your response. It looks like I can use that information to safely delete many of the desktop icons. Here?s what I found: C: - documents and settings has these 3 folders: all users, myname, owner.

The all users - desktop folder has all shortcuts

The myname folder has a desktop folder .
- In detail view, it shows mostly application as the description, with a few shortcuts.
- In tiles view it shows additional information, including: setup.exe, setup application, install.exe, installer, installer and uninstaller, setup launcher, installs, and setup package.
Looks like these were used for setup and are no longer needed.

The owner folder has only: local settings, application data, Google, Google desktop, folder (12ab34cd56789) It does not have a desktop folder .

Maybe one lesson from this would be that since I usually wind up with downloaded programs in C:/Program Files, I could try to use that destination when I download - instead of allowing Firefox to download to the desktop.

Which leads to this question: If a program has been downloaded to the desktop, it is better to leave it there or to try to move it to another file and hope you haven?t affected its use by changing its location? Maybe there is a simple way to drag and drop it?

Thank you for your help.

Collapse -
Re: Firefox download location.
by Kees Bakker / September 9, 2007 8:34 AM PDT

It's harmless (but a little bit clumsy) to move (drag and drop) a downloaded file from the desktop to its final location. Just downloading doesn't do anything with it.

In Firefox however, you can specify the download location in the Tools>Options>General tab. "Always to the desktop" is the default, but you can specify another location to always download to (like My Documents>Downloaded files or My Documents>Downloaded programs, you might have to make it) or you can choose for "Ask me every time". Just what you want.

The easy ways to drag and drop from the desktop:
1. Open the My Computer or Windows Explorer window with the right folder to be seen, but NOT maximized. Then simply drag and drop from the desktop to the open window.
2. Install a shell extension like (right click) Copy to Any folder, that lets browse to the folder you want to copy or move it to.
3. Go into My Computer or Windows Explorer and realize that your desktop is just a folder: Documents and Settings/<yourusername>/Desktop, so copying and moving files from the desktop is just the same as from any other folder.

And just a tip: don't delete all those setup programs. You might need them again. I just installed the latest Windows Live Messenger on my sons new Vista laptop, but somehow (don't ask me why) he didn't like it, so he wanted his old MSN Messenger 7.0 instead. So I just went to my folder with all setups I installed (of course, I've got them burned on CD also), copied the right setup program to a USB-stick and installed that program on the laptop. A few years ago I had to install an old version of cdex on a Windows 98 PC this way, because the latest version I downloaded didn't work.
And, of course, if you ever have to do a clean install of your OS, it's handy to have all those programs easily available. Saves a lot of time.

It's good practice, of course, to regularly backup both the My Documents and the Desktop folder. So from the point of view of not losing your data, it doesn't matter then where you download to.

Hope this helps.


Collapse -
You need to understand what is happening here.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / September 9, 2007 8:49 AM PDT

Excuse my butting in, but I thought I might help, Happy

There is a difference between "downloaded files", "shortcuts", and "programs".

For example, I have just upgraded my own Google Earth and for a while I had two Google Earth icons on my Desktop, but I knew I would. One of them was the file I downloaded from Google, (or from inside of Google Earth when I clicked on Help > "Check for updates"). This is the "installer" file. It contains the new program, or sometimes the updates, but is not the program itself. When I double clicked this file it then proceeded to install/upgrade Google Earth on my computer.

Then the existing Google Earth shortcut icon I had on the Desktop, the shortcut that allowed me to open the previous version of Google Earth when I double clicked it, was replaced by a new Google Earth shortcut icon.

That meant I had two Google Earth icons in the Desktop. The shortcut to the actual, (upgraded), program, and the installer file. That installer file is now useless and I could have deleted it. However I have a policy of moving any installer files I download to a special folder I created called Downloads. I keep these installer files in case I ever need to re-install something and I then don't have to re-download it.

So you probably have the Google Earth shortcut to the actual program, plus the installer/update file. What you do with the installer/update file is up to you.

Firefox, (and for that matter Internet Explorer), either asks if you want to open, (run), a downloaded file or save it. You should never open or run a downloaded file without virus checking it first. Firefox downloads all such files by default to your desktop. You can change that location if you wish, but the desktop is a quick and easy place to save such files temporarily. I believe IE downloads to your My Documents folder. After the files have been used you can either delete them or save them as backup installer files, but do not leave them on the desktop.

So although an installer file may be on your desktop, this is just a temporary place. No programs should be installed onto the desktop. That is a quick way to overwhelm the desktop with files and icons. Programs are normally installed in a folder called "Program files", but usually in any install process you have the option to change the location where you want a program to be installed.

I use Windows Explorer to manage my files. Note, I said Windows Explorer and not Internet Explorer. You can find your Windows Explorer in Start > All Programs > Accessories > Windows Explorer. I recommend you examine it and explorer how to use it as it is a good basic file manager. you can cut and paste, or move files by dragging them into and out of folders, or create folders within folders, etc.

I hope that helps.


Collapse -
Yes that helps a lot!
by JmsEmBer-2134831014221219 / September 9, 2007 10:36 AM PDT

Thank you very much Kees Bakker and MarkFlax for your excellent assistance. This is an experience that will help me progress beyond the novice user stage as I learn by trying to understand how to do things right the first time. I appreciate your help.

Collapse -
(NT) No problem, and we were all novices once, :)
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / September 9, 2007 6:10 PM PDT
In reply to: Yes that helps a lot!
Collapse -
A variation on Murphy's law.
by Kees Bakker / September 9, 2007 7:47 PM PDT
In reply to: Yes that helps a lot!

Your post reminded me of a variation on Murphy's law. It applies to practically all professional IT-projects I've seen.

There's never time to do something right the first time. But there's always time to do it over.


All projects are in a hurry and need to be ready 'yesterday'. So on a certain moment quality control lapses and things are done quick and dirty to save a few days. Later on, that causes errors and problems, and one happily spends a few weeks to redo the whole job.

Yours is a much smaller example. You can't expect to do something you don't know about right the first time you do it. There's a necessary learning curve (learn from your experiences). And with PC's, in fact, you keep learning forever.


Collapse -
by dmilli / December 3, 2009 12:20 PM PST

I;m using an IMAC os x version 10.5.8. The window that opens when you click on finder has three folders at the bottom documents. movies.images.I dragged two of them on to the desk top. Now there gone. how do I get them back where they were.

Collapse -
Since this discussion
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / December 4, 2009 10:38 PM PST
In reply to: Imac

was about a Windows Desktop problem, I am not sure you are going to find Mac experts here.

Why not try one of CNET's great Mac forums, eg Mac Forum Listing. I'm sure there will be plenty of members there ready to help you.

Good luck.


Popular Forums
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions

Does BMW or Volvo do it best?

Pint-size luxury and funky style

Shopping for a new car this weekend? See how the BMW X2 stacks up against the Volvo XC40 in our side-by-side comparison.