Show Me Your Desktop, Leo Babauta

22 July, 2007

What's On Your Computer

Last week I interviewed Wendy Piersall from This week it’s Leo Babauta from zen habits turn.

Leo writes excellent life hacking articles. I’ve personally followed several of them. It’s because of him my work inbox is completely empty and organised. It’s his “fault” that my wife and I now get 30 minutes earlier out of bed every morning. We really enjoy having the 30 minutes extra each morning.

Because of the surprising answer to the first question, I’ve added a bonus question at the end of the interview.

1. What is your background picture?

Right now I’m using a wallpaper called “Wet Blueberries” by Jim Mires
(from You’ll notice I don’t have any icons on my

2. Why did you chose that picture?

I love it because 1) I love all kinds of berries, and these look
great; and 2) this is just a visually pleasing image. I like images
that calm me — in the past, I’ve used Zen gardens, tropical scenes,
and other nature images.

3. If you have a personal and a work computer, which program do you use the most on your personal computer?

Firefox, hands down. I do all my work on the web, only using
occasional desktop apps for images or other media, and also AbiWord
for some quick off-line writing. On the web (using Firefox), my most
commonly used apps include Gmail, Google Docs, WordPress, and GCal.
Oh, and AutoHotkey — it makes everything come together and flow

4. Which program do you use the most on your work computer?

Same ones. icon smile Show Me Your Desktop, Leo Babauta I pretty much do the same work on both computers -
although on my work computer, I also use MS Word once in awhile, just
for formatting issues. I don’t like the program at all.

5. Internet Explorer or Firefox?

There is no question — Firefox. Now that I’ve used FF, I hate using
IE, which I’ll do if I’m on someone else’s computer. It’s horrible.

6. Why do you use Firefox?

So many reasons. FF is just more useable. I also get less malware and
other security problems using FF, and love awesome extensions — some
of my more common extensions include Greasemonkey, Gmail Manager,
Foxmarks, FireFTP, DownloadStatusbar, Google Toolbar and more.

7. What is your favourite program?

I think the answer should be obvious by now — Firefox. icon smile Show Me Your Desktop, Leo Babauta

8. Which program is the worst?

Microsoft Explorer and Word are my two least favorite. I only use them
if I absolutely have to. Buggy, bloated, and virus-ridden.

9. Do you have any tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your computer or blog?

Well, I’d recommend AutoHotKey for anyone using a PC (although
Quicksilver makes me drool and my next computer will be a Mac). AHK
just makes things so much quicker. Any program, file, folder, website,
or snippet of text I commonly use gets a keystroke combination in AHK,
and it makes everything available with a keystroke.

Other than that, I would suggest simplifying. People use too many
programs at once, which can slow down the computer and cause
conflicts. I like to use one program. Also, if you use Firefox as much
as I do, learn the shortcuts, and use keyword bookmarks and keyword
searches often — they speed up life considerably.

Bonus question: No icons on your desktop?! Why is that?

I don’t keep icons on my desktop for a couple of reasons:

1) Simplicity. I’m a fan of simplicity in all areas of my life, and
I’m a minimalist when it comes to aesthetics, including on the

2) Productivity. It slows down the computer to have to draw the icons
on the desktop, and it’s not a productive way to access programs or
files. I set up hotkeys for the programs and files and folders I use.
Also, icons on the desktop are visual clutter that distract you from
the task you’re trying to perform.

3) Organization. I hate it when there are icons all over my desktop.
It’s so cluttered and disorganized … I prefer a simple folder

4) Reduction of hard drive usage. I actually don’t use my hard drive
to store many files anymore … it’s more of a temporary scratch
drive, in a way. I write all my stuff online, so it’s all stored on my
host server or on google’s servers. There are times when I save stuff
to my hard drive, but it’s temporary and I habitually clean that stuff
out. For example: I might write a post for myself or another blog on
WordPress … it’s stored on my host’s server. If I send it to someone
else, I might save it as a text file and then attach it to an email,
then I delete it. Alternatively, I might write something on Google
Docs, and then email the link to someone. I also store my photos
online. The only thing I use my hard drive for, for the most part, are
mp3 files … and that’s only on my home computer. So, to sum up, I
rarely store stuff on my hard drive anyway … it makes my
organization much easier, as my online files are easily searchable
through Google, for example — I just archive and then search when I
need them.

Click to see a bigger picture

Which tip or idea is your favourite life hack? Could you live without any icons on your desktop or with just one folder in your mail program?

Thank you very much to Leo Babauta from zen habits. Next week I’ll ask Yaro Starak from Entrepreneur’s Journey “Show Me Your Desktop, Yaro Starak”.

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  • Alex Ion

    No icons … hmm that would be weird for me because I am used with finding everything on the desktop. I might try AHK.

    Nice interview.

  • Dennis Bjørn Petersen

    That was my thought too, Alex. I had to ask Leo how he managed to do that, but I can see why it isn’t very productive…why not have everything on shortcuts

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  • Brown Baron

    I can’t imagine not having any icons on my desktop. I think I’d feel lost haha.

  • Lyndon

    I am definitely a believer in the “no icons” practice. I use two launcher panels on my Linux desktop, located at the top and bottom of the screen. that is where I put my shortcut, always use icons.

  • Dennis Bjørn Petersen

    I’m having a hard time getting rid of my icons too. Maybe I can remove them, but I bet I’ll fall back to the old habits again.

    I’ve seen several examples of people not having any icons on their desktop, I might end up trying to remove them on one of my computers, just to see if I can live with it.
    I can see the point in it though

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  • Travis

    No icons on the desktop?!?!?!


    I may just have to try that on my writing laptop.


  • Dennis Bjørn Petersen

    My thought exactly!

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  • Ajay M

    Wot about interviewing me…I will be glad if you can arrange.

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  • Pamela

    This clicked with me because about 3 weeks ago I suddenly had an “aha!” moment and nixed my icons. I only have about 3 on there, and I launch programs from the bottom bar. I love the serenity of my wallpaper, which is a lovely blue photo of the Sea of Galilee at dusk.

    I also totally agree about FF being the best invention since the internet.

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  • Adam Kayce : Monk At Work

    I keep the icons low-to-none on my desktop, too — but the part that piqued my interest is the ‘store it all online’ piece.

    Time to go investigate options on that!

  • Dennis Bjørn Petersen

    Any chance of getting a glimpse of your wallpaper?

    I’d love to know what you found out about storing data online. I’m currently researching for a post about it.

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