7 Simple Steps To An Awesome Minimalist Desktop

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Is your desktop cluttered with icons? Do you keep searching for shortcuts or documents among the dozens of icons on your desktop? And when was the last time you changed your wallpaper?

The desktop is the first thing you see when you log into your account. Would you prefer to look at a stunningly beautiful desktop rather than a cluttered, ugly, and frustrating screen?

This article shows you how to create an awesome minimalist desktop in 7 easy steps. In the end, you’ll find that it’s much more relaxing to have space and a nice view on your desk.

1. Remove Desktop Icons

There are two easy ways to remove all desktop icons for a minimalist desktop:

  • You can manually delete all shortcuts and move any remaining documents to a new folder.
  • You can also right-click onto your desktop, select > Arrange Icons By, and uncheck > Show Desktop Icons.

If you selected the first method, which I would recommend, your desktop will look something like the screenshot below. Empty, except for the Recycle Bin.

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minimalist desktop

2. Hide Recycle Bin

This hack works essentially the same under Windows XP and Windows 7. In Windows XP, go to > Start > Run > type gpedit.msc into the text field and > hit OK. In Windows 7, go to > Start and into the search box type > gpedit.msc then press > Enter.

In the > Local Group Policy Editor click through to > User Configuration > Administrative Templates.

Within the > Desktop folder on the right find the entry > Remove Recycle Bin icon from desktop and double-click it. The properties window for this option will open. Select > enabled to hide the Recycle Bin and > click OK.

minimalist desktop setup

You have to log off or reboot your computer for the change to come into effect.

3. Hide The Taskbar

After hiding all the desktop icons, including the recycle bin; your desktop will look a lot more peaceful. However, there still is this annoying taskbar. To hide it > right-click onto the taskbar and select > Properties. In the properties window check > Auto-hide the taskbar.

And this is the perfect desktop:

minimalist desktop

Alternatively, you can use tools to hide the taskbar to top off your minimalist desktop. Check out my article 6 Tools for Elegant Taskbar Tweaking and 1 to Repair.

4. Organize Shortcuts and Documents

The perfect desktop, huh? You probably wonder how you’re going to access your documents and folders now. Easy. You’ll add a pretty dock, which will hold everything you need in a clean and organized manner.

RocketDock is one of the most popular dock programs out there. It comes with all icons that are default components of every Windows desktop. You can remove items in the dock by dragging them out, you can change various icon properties, and drag new items into the dock from your folders. Note that documents will be added as shortcuts only.

program dock

The dock can be added to either side of the screen and you can let it hide automatically.

For more docks, have a look at my article Docks – The 6 Best Friends of your Windows Taskbar.

5. Quickly Access Programs

Now rather than cluttering your pretty dock with shortcuts, you should keep it down to the bare minimum, i.e. items you need the most. For the rest, you can use a program launcher, which will help you to quickly find and open any program or document on your computer.

Launchy is my personal favorite. It’s so simple that there really isn’t much to say about it. You can use it to search programs, files or any bookmarks on your computer. You can even search Google with Launchy.

make minimalist desktop

Shankar introduced Launchy in his post Be more productive with Launchy Keystroke Launcher. More tips and tricks can be found here.

Looking for an alternative to Launchy? Jimmy reviewed Executor: A Power Program Launcher for Your Windows PC and Enso Launcher: It Will Make You Feel Like a Hacker. Varun inspected FARR – Launch Your Apps & Find Your Files Quickly. And Will listed Top 7 Unknown Free Launcher Applications for Windows.

6. Beautiful Wallpapers

Now that your minimalist desktop is perfectly clean and organized, it’s time to look for nice wallpapers. There are many great resources out there, but let me highlight just one.

DeviantART is a fantastic resource for high quality and artistic wallpapers. Under > Category select > Customization and > Wallpaper. You can further specify your search and browse all matching artwork.


For more wallpaper resources, check out Karl’s article Best Sites to Download Very High Resolution Wallpapers. Grant compiled Best Sites To Download Good High-Res Wallpapers (Part Two) and I summarized The Best Resources to Pimp Your Wallpaper

7. Automatically Switch Wallpapers

If you found more than one wallpaper you like on DeviantART, the good news is, you don’t need to choose; you can have them all. Simply use a tool that will automatically switch between all of your favorite wallpapers.

ScrollWall is the tool I personally use. You can add dozens of wallpapers, define how they should be treated (stretched, centered, tiled), and how often the wallpaper should be changed. No fuzz, straight forward, and very easy to set up.

switch wallpaper

In my article The Best Resources to Pimp Your Wallpaper I also covered Wallpaper Changer and Wallpaper Juggler. Please use this updated link for Wallpaper Juggler.

If you’re too lazy to search for wallpapers, but still want regular updates, try John’s Background Switcher, which I introduced in my article Take Flickr Straight to your Desktop with Interactive Wallpaper Updates.

You’re on Mac or Linux? Have a look at Damien’s article 5 Wallpaper Changer Apps For Linux or Simon’s piece on Wally – Awesome Wallpaper Rotator for Windows, Mac & Linux.

Need more advice for a super clean desktop? Check out my 3 Steps to an Organized Desktop.

And that’s it. Now you have a fantastic desktop, no clutter, no distractions, just a beautiful, relaxing view. What do you think?

Image credit: mmagallan

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