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Linux hints and tips

Mint/Ubuntu: Resize the desktop icons to get more space

The default size for the icons on the desktop might be fine for most people, but some might find that they are too big or even too small. It all depends on the resolution of the screen. The icons are definitely too big on laptop, notebook and netbook screens, particularly netbooks where the display is really limited. The desktop would be much better if the icons could be shrunk down a little.

Any icon on the desktop can be resized by right clicking it and selecting Stretch Icon from the menu that is displayed. There's a dotted bounding box showing the icon borders and four handles - one at each corner. Just click and drag a handle to resize the icon. If you have a lot of icons then this is a tedious way to resize them and it's hard to make the desktop look good because the icons will all be slightly different sizes. A much better way to resize desktop icons is by using Nautilus.

Nautilus is the file browser used by Mint/Ubuntu and it's like Explorer on Windows PCs. All files and folders are viewed using Nautilus and the desktop is actually just another folder (of course, it's a special one, but it's still a folder). If you customise the view settings in Nautilus you will change how the desktop looks.

Open your home folder and select Edit, Preferences. Select the Views tab and in the Icon View Defaults section (because the desktop is always displayed in icon view), set the default zoom level. Lower values will shrink the desktop icons, so choose 66% or even 50% whereas larger values like 150% will make the icons larger. A value of 66% is a good choice. The desktop is updated as soon as you choose a new value, so you can see the effect immediately and this makes it easier to decide what's best.

Mint: Automatically load your favourite programs

Auto load programs in Linux MintDo you have a favourite program that you always run? Is there a certain program that you always load after starting linux? Perhaps a web browser or email program to see what's new on the web or in your inbox? You can save a little time and effort by having your favourite program load automatically when linux starts. Then it's right in front of you and waiting to be used as soon as the desktop appears.

Configuring a program to automatically load with linux is easy in Mint. Just find the program on the menu and then right click it. A mini menu appears and all you need to do is to tick the option labelled Launch when I log in. Then try restarting linux and see it magically appear. If you change your mind and no longer want the program to load with linux, just return to the menu and clear the tick box. It's simple.

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