Mac: Weblog Mac OS X Hints reminds us that when your computer's running slower than it should, sometimes complicated maintenance isn't the answer — cleaning up the desktop could be the solution.
Because of the way OS X's graphical system works, the icons on your desktop take up a lot more of your resources than you may realise:
A family member owns a Mac, and he was complaining it was getting slow - especially the Desktop. He had a lot of files on the Desktop, but none of them were visible on the Desktop itself, but only in a Finder window displaying the contents of the Desktop. The Desktop only showed two icons: the main hard disk, and a Time Machine hard disk. The Desktop itself was very slow, and often displayed a beachball.
However, when I looked in the Desktop folder, there were more than 2,700 image files. When I removed the image files from the Desktop folder, everything went back to normal.
Obviously, this isn't a problem for most of you, since you've created a clean, organised desktop for yourselves (right? right?), but your less tech-savvy friends and relatives might be guilty of this (I'm talking to you, mum). Next time you're going through the inevitable family troubleshooting, make sure their desktop doesn't look like the picture above, and maybe even set them up with Hazel to prevent it in the future. You might be surprised at how much it can improve things.
Speed up your Mac by removing files from the Desktop [Mac OS X Hints]