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The Twelve Desktops of Christmas

  1. #1

    Posts : 273
    64-bit Windows 8

    The Twelve Desktops of Christmas

    There has been much confusion about the Windows Desktop, because the computer and software industries have an unfortunate tendency to call many things by the same name, instead of making up a different name for each thing.

    This post will eliminate all that confusion. (Or else it will double the confusion -- I'm not sure which.)

    Naturally I just couldn't resist using this post title; but it's a dastardly lie, because actually there are not merely 12 but 18 Desktops:

    1. The Desktop GUI; that is, the display of icons that you see in Desktop mode when there are no windows in the way.

    2. The "Show Desktop" icon, which minimizes all windows so you can see your whole Desktop. It's in the folder "C:\Users\Default\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch" and is a "virtual" shortcut with no target address, like the system's built-in shortcuts for Computer, Control Panel, Recycle Bin, and the "Window Switcher."

    3. The OTHER "Show Desktop" icon, which does the same thing but looks like a File Explorer icon. It's in the folder "C:\Users\(UserName)\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WinX\Group1" and uses a CLSID (see item 9 below).

    4. The Show Desktop "Non-Icon" which can be clicked at the lower right corner of the screen, but doesn't look or behave like an icon in general.

    5. The User Desktop folder, in your User folder, which controls the contents of your Desktop GUI Display.

    6. The Treetop folder, as I call it -- a "virtual" folder which is the top of File Explorer's "tree" of folders. It has the Desktop's contents plus the "default" Desktop items like Libraries, Computer, Control Panel, Network, Homegroup, Recycle Bin, and your User folder.

    7. The Shortcut to the User Desktop folder: There's none in the system that I know of, but you can create one if you like. (See under next item.)

    8. The Shortcut to the Treetop folder. It's in the "Favorites" folder -- not the one inside your user folder, but the File Explorer Favorites folder shown at the top of the Navigation Pane.

    (Note): Strangely, that shortcut's target address appears as "C:\Users\(UserName)\Desktop" which is actually the address of the User Desktop folder. And, even more strangely, if you make a shortcut to "C:\Users\(UserName)\Desktop" using the Create Shortcut Wizard, that one will open the Treetop folder too! You can use the Wizard to make a shortcut to the User Desktop folder, but only by typing "explorer C:\Users\(UserName)\Desktop" as the target.

    Something ever more weird: Open a File Explorer window and click the first appearance of your UserName folder in the Navigation Pane, right near the top. Then open another window and find "Computer" further down in the Pane, and navigate from there to Computers > C: > Users > (UserName).

    Now you see your User folder in both windows; they look identical. Each one contains an icon called "Desktop" and, naturally, they both go to the User Desktop folder -- the one that's in the folder you're looking at.

    But now, in the first "User" window, right-click the "Desktop" folder icon shown there and select "Create Shortcut." The resulting shortcut icon will of course appear in both windows, since the same folder is being displayed in both. Then do the same thing in the second window, and a second shortcut will appear in both windows.

    But the two shortcuts are different. The first one appears as a folder icon and opens the User Desktop folder; the second one looks like the Show Desktop icon, and it opens the Treetop folder.

    Here's the "tree of folders" as shown in the Navigation Pane.
    1 . Favorites
    2 . > Desktop
    3 . > Downloads
    4 . > Recent Places
    5 . Desktop
    6 . > Libraries
    7 . > Homegroup
    8 . > UserName
    9 . > > Desktop
    10. > Computer
    11. > > Drive C:
    12. > > > Program Files
    13. > > > Program Data
    14. > > > Users
    15. > > > > Default
    16. > > > > Public
    17. > > > > UserName
    18. > > > > > Desktop
    19. > > > Windows
    20. > Network
    21. > Control Panel
    22. > Recycle Bin

    #5 is the Treetop folder, and #2 is the shortcut to it.

    Your User folder is shown in two places: #8 (in the Treetop folder) and #17 (in Computer > C: > Users).

    The User Desktop folder is in your User folder, so it also appears twice (#9 and #18).

    So what it amounts to is that the shortcut you created from #9 will open #9, which is also #18; but the one you created from #18 will open #5! (End of note.)

    9. The Desktop CLSID {3080F90D-D7AD-11D9-BD98-0000947B0257} that can be used to make a "Show Desktop" shortcut.

    10. The OTHER Desktop CLSID {B4BFCC3A-DB2C-424C-B029-7FE99A87C641} that has been documented before but doesn't seem to do anything now.

    11. The Desktop Shell Command "shell:Desktop" which makes a shortcut to the Treetop folder.

    12. The OTHER Desktop Shell Command "shell:UsersFilesFolder\Desktop" that makes a shortcut to the User Desktop folder.

    13. The "default" Desktop Toolbar which is in the system and ready to use. It represents the Treetop folder and includes all its contents plus expanding submenus.

    14. The OTHER Desktop Toolbar, representing the User Desktop folder. That isn't in the system, but (like Quick Launch) you can create it yourself if you want.

    15. The Desktop Tile, on the Metro Start Screen.

    16. The OTHER Desktop Tile, on the Metro All-Apps Screen.

    17. The Desktop "Tile-Icon" which looks like a blank white square. It should be in one of the two Start Menu folders. As long as it's there you'll have the Desktop tile on the All-Apps screen, and you can pin it to Start from there. If you can't find it, download it from Brink's tutorial, "Desktop--Restore Missing Tile on Windows 8 Start Screen."

    18. The Desktop Drop-Target in the "Send To" folder. It causes the "Send To" context menu to contain the item called "Send To > Desktop (Create Shortcut)."

    Well, I don't know about you, but I think it's OUTRAGEOUS that Windows only has 18 different things called "Desktop"; it should have at least 40.

    Oh well, happy New Year anyway!
    Last edited by Dragon Drop; 01 Jan 2014 at 18:53.

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The Twelve Desktops of Christmas

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