Windows 7 Professional - Customising the Windows Desktop

Windows 7 - Customising the Desktop Icons and System Notification Area

The basic Windows 7 desktop as configured after setup completes has no useful icons and requires that everything is done from the "Start" button.  In addition, the "System notification Area" (The icons near the clock in the lower right corner of the desktop) by default hides inactive icons. 

It is generally useful to see all the notification icons and to have the most commonly used shortcuts shown as icons on the desktop.

To do this, start by enabling the system notification area icons.  Right-Click on the taskbar to show the "Context Menu" for the taskbar:

Windows 7 - Customise Taskbar

Click "Properties" to show the dialogue box shown below:

Windows 7 Taskbar Properties

In the dialogue box above, click "Customise" in the "Notification Area" box to see the Notification area options:

Windows 7 - Enable notification icons

Tick the checkbox "Always show all icons and notifications on the toolbar" to show all notification icons.

The same dialogue box shown above can be used to customise exactly which icons are displayed according to your needs, however in general, it is best and easiest to show all the icons.

Next, we can add some useful shortcut icons to the Windows Desktop.

Click the "Start" button and the <Right-Click> the username shown at the top of the right-hand column (in this case it is "user") and then click "Show on Desktop".  This displays the logged on users "Home" folder, which now contains folders such as "My Documents" and "My Pictures" and so on - and is a very useful icon to have on the desktop.

Windows 7 - display user folder on desktop

In a very similar way, click "Start" and <Right-Click> "Computer" and again click "Show on Desktop" to show the "Computer" icon on the Windows desktop.  This was the "My Computer" icon in Windows XP and provides easy access to the local disks, DVD drive and network connections.

Windows 7 - Display Computer icon on desktop

Now, click the "Start" buttin again and this time <Right-Click> "Control Panel" and <Click> "Show on desktop".  This provides quick and easy access to the Windows control panel to allow many settings and options to be configured quickly and easily.

Windows 7 - show Control Panel icon on desktop

Now, after a few simple changes, we have a far more useful and productive Windows Desktop with quick and easy access to commonly needed items.

Later, as other programs are installed, we can add more icons as required and also "Pin" icons to the taskbar so they can be access at all times - even when other programs are displayed "Full Screen".

Windows 7 desktop with standard icons displayed

Here is our Windows 7 desktop with the newly added icons.  Note that the "Browser Choice" icon shown is added by the Windows updates previously installed and is used to enable a the Web browser such as Internet Explorer.  The icon can be deleted when this has been done.