Below is a snapshot of my desktop on my Macbook (click on it for the full version).
As you can see, it is quite clean and tidy. There are five special folders on the desktop (they are also in the Favorite lists in Finder, so that they can be accessed quickly and easily).
- The Inbox folder is for almost everything I receive from the Internet, from USB disks, etc.
- The Outbox folder is for everything I intend to send out later (e.g. attachments to emails, files uploaded to Internet).
- The Papers folder is for the (research) papers I found on the Internet or received from my colleagues and intend (or process) to read later.
- The Quick Ref folder is for (links to) quick references (e.g. LaTeX references, programming manuals).
- The Temp folder is for temporary storage (people tend to put temporary files on the desktop, which makes it messy very quickly).