“How do you keep your desktop so clean?!”

I’m asked this almost every time someone new sees my computer. My desktop has no icons on it, and I like it that way. Old-school fans of 43 Folders might remember the Kinkless Desktop, a 5-article series by Ethan Schoonover from 2007 (with videos!) that explained how to clean your desktop off and ensure it stays pristine. It relied heavily on automation via a tool called Hazel and served as my introduction to automation on the Mac. I implemented the Kinkless Desktop almost 10 years ago, and I’ve stuck with it (with a few modifications) ever since.

Sadly, the kinkless.com site is offline now. Internet Archive to the rescue! Here’s the series. Go read/watch it. I’ll wait.

And here’s what I’ve changed:

  • I moved Archive, Inbox and Outbox to the dock (along with the Downloads folder) and removed the icons from my desktop entirely.
  • I never really used the Pending folder, so I ditched it.
  • I replaced the Archive folder with a link to my Dropbox folder. Everything lives in there.
  • Inbox and Outbox now live in my Dropbox as well just to ensure everything gets stored in the cloud.
  • I’ve gotten in the habit of filing things away where they belong immediately, so I don’t use the Inbox as much as I used to.
  • I haven’t found any fancy icons that match El Capitan with which to customize my folders, so the folders look super-boring.

I still use all of the Hazel rules, which are fantastic. You can download a copy of the originals here.

I’ve also adapted my use of iOS to work with the Inbox folder. A Drafts action called Dropbox Inbox lets me send the current draft to a Markdown file in my Inbox so I can process it later.

If I’m taking a note about something in Drafts that needs to end up back on my Mac, two taps will send it there. I process my Inbox folder once a day as part of my daily review.

Also worth noting is that Hazel was just updated to version 4.0. It’s $32 and worth purchasing. If you want to go beyond just keeping your desktop tidy, have a look at David Sparks' new Hazel Field Guide ($20), a video walk-through that’ll take you from novice to power user in 2.5 hours.