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Yes, the simple desktop-cleaning solution that got a quick demo on stage is the feature that I’ve been thinking about since the keynote.
Apple describes Stacks as “a really neat way to manage files,” and it is. To fully see the advantages of Stacks and what it aims to change, though, it’s important to examine the desktop as a whole.
I use my Mac every day, and I store a lot of files on my desktop, from old documents to screenshots. I capture password keys, images, receipts, and various random things throughout the day.
Screenshots have always had a handy naming convention: Screen Shot Year-Month-Day Time Code AM/PM. But when you take a ton of them, there’s no easy way to declutter them all. You have to manually organize them, which is a huge chore, and pretty low on the priority list, as digital-life-organizing tasks go
The easy way out is to create a new workspace, but the truth is you’re just procrastinating. I try to clean up my desktop now and then, but most of the time it makes me look like a hoarder — filled to the brim with files that do not need to be there.
Mojave finally gives us a declutter button with Stacks. The key here is it isn’t a Delete button — it’s organizational tool that moves all of your files into lists organized by what the files are. These groupings are a bird’s-eye view; Images, Movies, PDFs, Documents, Spreadsheets, and Screenshots.
What it’s like to use Stacks
After updating to Mojave, Stacks doesn’t get a splash screen in the initial setup, at least in the beta. Once you’re in macOS, just right-click anywhere on the desktop and click “Use Stacks” to turn it on. Instantly, your desktop clutter is moved into various Stacks, and you’re left with a much cleaner desktop.
All of the files will then appear neatly in Stacks, and you have some minor control over how each stack looks. You can right click to control how the Stacks get sorted, like by date opened or file type.
Like any good tool, Stacks becomes indispensable almost immediately. The one thing that took some getting used to is having my screenshots in a “place” as they’re no longer all over the desktop. That changes my workflow slightly; instead of going straight to the desktop, now I need to dive into the screenshots Stack.
Is it just hiding the clutter?
Bluntly, depending on the type of user you are, Stacks could end up just hiding the chaos you’re trying to avoid — giving you the illusion of a clean desktop, by just filling tons of crap into different groups. You’ll still need to occasionally go in and clean out the individual Stacks.
But I found that with screenshots no longer taking up space all over my desktop, I didn’t worry about them so much. By leveling-up my peace of mind, Stacks ultimately does what it supposed to do, and the individual Stack manages the actual files just as well as my desktop did — if not better, since documents and other file types aren’t mixed in.
It’s my hope that Stacks is a tool that gives me more of my time back. It will make my desktop look cleaner and more organized (at least in the short term), and who knows? Maybe it’s just the push I needed to leave my file-hoarding days behind.