RAW Computing

Create a desktop tray for your icons in Windows

Windows automatically places desktop shortcuts in columns starting in the top left corner of the screen. Of course, you can drag them anywhere you like, but by default they are placed in nice, neat columns. Unfortunately, if you have a desktop wallpaper image that is colourful and busy on the left hand side, it can make the icons hard to see and the text below difficult to read. Here's how you can create a tray for your desktop icons that lets you see them and read the captions clearly.

You can customise the existing wallpaper or create new wallpaper. It's up to you. I will be using Windows 7, but the same technique works in any version of Windows.

First get some wallpaper. Start a web browser and go to Google. Select Images at the top and search for 'desktop wallpaper'. Alternatively, you'll find some here. Right click the wallpaper image in the browser and save it to the disk drive.


Open the wallpaper in a photo editor. If you don't have one then go and get Paint.NET. Resize the image to the same size as the desktop, such as 1280 x 800 or whatever it is. Then use the selection tool to click and drag a box at the left hand edge that is big enough to hold either one or two columns of icons. You can then blur it, darken it, lighten it, clear it and leave it a plain colour and so on. You're just creating a tray to hold the icons. When you have finished, save it.

Now you can set the image as the desktop wallpaper. Open an Explorer window and right click the modified wallpaper image you saved. Select Set as desktop background. Alternatively, right click the desktop, select Personalize, Desktop Background, Browse and then select it.


Notice the left-hand panel created for the icons in the screen shot above. It really makes the icons stand out. They would otherwise be lost among the flowers. It's much better.

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