Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Many desktops are completely cluttered with icons for various shortcuts. It doesn't affect the computer's performance, but it's still messy.
I have [a lot of applications on my desktop}. Would my desktop load faster if I put all of these apps and utility programs into one desktop folder rather than having all the icons appear on my desktop? Seeing them doesn't bother me and my desktop loads pretty fast, but my kids are horrified by all they see on my desktop. They say that even though these apps are not listed in my Startup Menu or in Start Programs and even though the apps don't appear to be running in Task Manager processes, they are running and using valuable CPU. Can you enlighten me and my kids?
I'm with your kids, sort of. I'm horrified, but not for the reasons that they're horrified.
And even though I am, if I were you I'd likely not change a thing.
I know that seems like contradictory advice, but it all boils down to being a matter of taste, and nothing more.
The short version is this: icons that are displayed on your desktop are not running programs and they do not take any additional resources, with one tiny exception. That very tiny exception is that it takes a teeny tiny amount of time to draw the icon itself on the desktop each time the desktop is displayed, particularly when you start up. But that's it.
Other than that, having an icon on your desktop is almost exactly the same as having an item in your start menu somewhere. It does nothing until you actually use it.
So why am I, like your kids, horrified? Well, like I said, it's for a completely different reason.
I'm a neat freak when it comes to my desktop.
In fact, here it is:
In case you're wondering, I put my taskbar on the far left - it makes the most sense for my dual monitor setup which gives me a full desktop that spans the two monitors looking like this:
As you can see, I have exactly two icons on my desktop: "My Computer" (which I renamed to the machine name, so I can keep my machines straight when I'm looking at them), and the Recycle Bin. That's it.
Why am I so anal about this?
It's actually very simple: what's the point in putting shortcuts to things on the desktop which is completely hidden by running programs most of the time? Shortcuts are much more useful in the quick-launch area (which you can see in the image above has quite a bit), and in the start menu itself. If I have to minimize or move a bunch of windows to access the shortcuts on my desktop then it doesn't seem like much of a "short cut".
But that's just me.
Like I said above, it's a matter of taste.
I regularly see machines where the desktop is completely covered with icons, and typically with no organization whatsoever. I shudder not only because of the aesthetics, because I wouldn't know how to go about finding anything in that mess.
But again, that's just me. Clearly the users of those computers are quite comfortable with their setup.
So there's your answer: if you like the way things are set up, don't bother changing it. You're not impacting your computer's performance in any way that matters.
On the other hand, if you're interested in getting more organized, then by all means ... organize away.