How to Simplify Your Computer + Free Minimalist Desktop Wallpaper

A Distaction-Free Workspace

You may be wishing that your computer was uncluttered and simplified, so you can have a productive day instead of being distracted by clutter or waiting for things to load.

Introducing… the Minimalist Desktop!

This guide is to help you declutter your computer and to help speed things up. Let’s get started!

In this post you can find:

  • How to simplify your Windows desktop
  • How to simplify your MAC desktop
  • How to get free wallpaper or create your own
  • How to make your computer faster by freeing up space
  • How to declutter your browser

Start With the Desktop

An easy and quick way to get immediate results is to simplify your desktop first. You may find that by just doing this, you will feel much calmer and less cluttered.

Doing a small easy task also sets you up for doing more. Accomplishing a small goal will give you the motivation needed to continue working on the next goals.

This section is split into three sections. One if for people who have a Windows computer. One is for people who have a MAC. And, the last section is showing you how to get an awesome wallpaper background for your desktop.

Simplify Desktop for Windows

Our goal for a minimalist desktop is to have the absolute bare minimum showing. On Windows computers, we can actually delete and hide everything so that just the wallpaper is showing.

Here’s how to do it.

hide icons including recycle bin

There are some icons on the desktop that cannot be deleted right on the desktop. These icons include the recycle bin and control panel icons.

We will have to go into the computer settings to get rid of these icons, so follow the steps below if you want to remove them.

  1. After opening up the Settings app on your computer, use the search bar to search for “icon”
  2. When the drop-down menu appears, click on the option that says, “themes and related settings.”
  3. Then on the Themes page, scroll all the way down until you see the “Related Settings” section and click on “Desktop icon settings.”
  4. A window will pop-up. Uncheck all the icons that you don’t want on your desktop. Then click “Apply” and “OK”

Your desktop will now have all those icons removed!

But wait! What if I need to access the recycle bin?!?!?

No worries! Before disabling the recycle bin from the desktop, open the recycle bin. Then over in the file structure at the left of the window, look for the “Quick access” section.

Right click on “Quick access” and then select “Pin current folder to Quick access.” Now your recycle bin will be in the quick access section whenever you need it!

deleting all shortcuts

Deleting shortcuts and folders on the desktop is where you will really start to feel like your desktop is getting uncluttered.

When you first open your computer, it can be a jumbled mess when it’s full of icons.

To start, you can go through each shortcut and delete the ones you don’t need then delete them. You can then go through each folder to see which ones you don’t need and delete those too.

Or you can get it over with, select everything at once and hit the Delete key. Easy peasy! Boom! An uncluttered desktop has now been achieved.

BUT before deleting everything in one go, be sure to place the files somewhere else on your computer or you’ll end up deleting them.

If you accidentally delete some files, you can find them and restore them from the recycling bin.

And now there is no clutter on your desktop. What a great start!

declutter taskbar

Sometimes you have too many icons on your taskbar. Uncluttering your taskbar means to only keep programs pinned that you use on a daily basis.

This way, the most important programs are a click away and you don’t have to go searching.

You can start uncluttering your taskbar by hovering over an icon, right-clicking, and selecting “unpin from taskbar.” If the program is not in use, the icon should then disappear.

After unpinning programs from the taskbar, you may want to take it a step further. You can make the icons smaller and you can choose to not show other settings like the power bar and network icon.

To make the icons smaller, follow these steps.

  1. For Windows 10 users, use the search on your taskbar, search for “taskbar” and click on “Taskbar Settings.”
  2. For other versions of Windows or if you don’t have a search on your taskbar, find your control panel. Click on “Appearance and Personalization” then “Taskbar and Navigation.” A setting window should pop-up.
  3. Look for the option that says “Use small taskbar buttons” and turn it on.

Notice that the buttons get smaller and create a lot of extra blank space.

If you want to play around with the other icons on your taskbar, follow these steps.

  1. For Windows 10 users, use the search on your taskbar, search for “taskbar” and click on “Taskbar Settings.”
  2. For other versions of Windows or if you don’t have a search on your taskbar, find your control panel. Click on “Appearance and Personalization” then “Taskbar and Navigation.” A setting window should pop-up.
  3. Scroll down until you see “Notification Area.” Under this heading, there are two options: “Select which icons appear on the taskbar” and “Turn system icons on or off.”
  4. Click on both of these options and play around with which icons you want to keep on your taskbar.

Uncluttering isn’t always about getting to zero or taking everything away. It is about removing the junk and keeping the functional pieces. So hopefully your taskbar is now functional.

auto hide taskbar

Your taskbar sits on the bottom of your screen (or other sides of your screen. If you want to know how to move it around, check out this tutorial.)

We can hide the taskbar so we get that decluttered look and a little more screen space to work with.

Think of it as a decluttered kitchen with empty counters. You have everything stored in the cabinets and only pull appliances out when you need them.

Hiding the taskbar will make the taskbar disappear until you need to use it. Then all you will have to do is over near the edge of your screen and it will reappear!

Follow these steps to hide the taskbar.

  1. For Windows 10 users, use the search on your taskbar, search for “taskbar” and click on “Taskbar Settings.”
  2. For other versions of Windows or if you don’t have a search on your taskbar, find your control panel. Click on “Appearance and Personalization” then “Taskbar and Navigation.” A setting window should pop-up.
  3. Look for the option that says “Automatically hide the taskbar” and turn it on.

Your taskbar should now be hidden!

Simplify Desktop for MAC

Apple has done a good job making the MAC’s desktop simple and uncluttered. But there are still more you can do to unclutter and simplify your desktop.

declutter all shortcuts

Usually, the first thing you see when you open your computer is the desktop and all those shortcuts and folders staring at you. Deleting these items will give your computer declutter journey the biggest jumpstart.

Before deleting any shortcuts or folders, be sure to make sure you have a back up of everything.

Then, you can go through each item and determine if you still want it on your desktop. The easiest way to get your desktop uncluttered is to just say, “no!” to everything and delete everything off all at once.

BOOM! Done!

An uncluttered desktop. You’re doing great!

declutter menu bar

Your menu bar is located at the very top of your screen. It hosts a line of icons. You may declutter these icons if it’s filled with items you don’t use frequently.

To start decluttering, hold down the Command (⌘) key. While you’re still holding the key down, click on the icon you want to remove and drag it off of the menu bar. Then release.

Do this until all the icons you don’t want are gone.

Sometimes, though, icons don’t disappear. This might be because of the program it belongs to. Open up the program and see if there are settings that involve icons and the menu bar.

If you’re looking for other things you can do with your menu bar, check out this article.

declutter the dock

Your dock may be filled to the brim. All the extra programs may get in the way when you’re looking for the one you use every day.

Uncluttering your dock ensures that you have access to the programs you use on the daily.

Start uncluttering your dock by hovering over an icon and right-clicking to show a menu. Hover over “Options” and select “Remove from Dock.” If the program is not in use, the icon should then disappear.

Do this until only the programs you use regularly are showing.

auto hide the dock

Your dock is docked to the bottom of your screen.

You can hide the dock so you can get that decluttered look with more screen space to work with.

Think of it as a decluttered desk with a cleared workspace. You have everything stored in the drawers and only pull things out when you need them.

Hiding the dock will make it disappear until you need to use it. Then all you will have to do is hover near the bottom of your screen and it will reappear!

To auto-hide your dock, follow these instructions:

  1. Click and launch “System Preferences”
  2. Find and click the “Dock” section
  3. Near the bottom of the window, there is a list of checkboxes. Find the option that says “Automatically hide and show the Dock” and check the box.

Now your dock should disappear until you hover near the bottom!

Choose a Minimalist Desktop Wallpaper

Now it’s wallpaper time! Since you decluttered your desktop, the background really stands out. This is your time to show personality or to stick to minimalists themes that are not distracting.

places to get free wallpaper

There are many places to find beautiful wallpapers for free. Here are some sources that I recommend.

  • Your own photography. If you like taking pictures, why not present a photo that you’re proud of?
  • Pexels for stunning photos.
  • Simple Desktops for minimalist wallpaper
  • Google image search. Any image on the internet is at your fingertips. As long as you’re images for personal use, any image you find is fair game.

make your own

You can have fun and make your own wallpaper. You just need imaging software.

The most common software if Photoshop, but if you’re looking for free alternatives, GIMP is an open source software that is just as good as Photoshop. And Photopea is exactly like Photoshop and you don’t even have to download it.

The dimensions size of the wallpaper depending on the sie of your computer, but I recommend going big and your computer can just size it down if needed. An image size of 1920 x 1080 should be good.

Make it Faster

Computer speed could be a sign that your computer is bogged down with clutter and you need to free up some space. Here are some ways to free up space and to make your computer faster.

Delete Unused Programs

Sometimes we download software just to test it out and half of the time, it sucked so we go download another one. But then we leave the other one still on our computer only to be left and forgotten.

Take some time to go through the programs on your computer and delete the ones you haven’t used in a while.

To see the different ways to delete programs off of a windows computer, click here.

And to see how to delete programs off of a MAC, click here.

Delete Unused Files or Back Them Up

Go through your file folders and delete any files that are trash and that you absolutely don’t need anymore.

Then, take all your files and back them up to an external harddrive. This ensures important files stay safe.

After all your files are backed up, I recommend to go through your files on your computer again and delete everything you’re not currently using.

Since the files are backed up somewhere safe, they don’t need to also be on your computer. Freeing up space will help your computer breathe and become faster.

Stop Unnecessary Startup Applications

By default, there are programs that get started as soon as you turn your computer on. Even if you have no intention on using these programs, they get started and run in the background.

This might explain why it seems like your computer is taking forever to start up.

Fortunately, you can turn these programs off so they won’t start as soon as your computer gets turned on. This will speed up your startup time.

To control which programs get turned on during startup, follow the directions in these articles:

Windows: How to Disable Startup Programs in Windows

MAC: How to Remove Startup Items in OS X

Dial Down the Graphics

Computers run a lot of graphics and animations that make tasks look pleasing. For example, when opening and closing a window you can notice the animation of the window fading and quickly getting smaller as it heads towards the taskbar/dock.

These animations can cause your computer to be slower. And we can turn them off!

The Windows instructions are straightforward, but the MAC instructions involve writing code into a command terminal.

Click here to turn off animations in Windows.

Click here to turn off animations in MAC.

End with the Browser

After cleaning up your desktop and your computer itself, you might want to then clean up your browser.

Browsers retain a lot of data and they most likely store this data on your computer. When there’s too much data not only can it affect your computer, but your browser can start to slow down to a halt.

Take these suggestions to declutter your browser to speed things up.

Go Through Bookmarks. You may have hundreds of bookmarks stored on a browser. Go through them and delete items you have no interest in anymore. Be ruthless and smart. For example, don’t bookmark “Twitter.” Are you really going to use the bookmark to access Twitter?

Close Tabs. A million tabs opened at once can slow your browser down significantly and even cause crashes. Close tabs down that you are not actively using.

Go Through Extensions. Extensions are cool and useful, but if they’re not being used, they continue to take up space and slow things down for nothing. Go through your browser’s extensions and uninstall any extensions you don’t use.

Clear Cache and Cookies. Clearing cache and cookies can free up space and make things faster. However, websites may load slower the first time you visit them, but then things should be normal.

And now you have a decluttered browser!

A More Productive Workspace

With your computer decluttered and feeling fresh, you can now work at tasks at hand knowing that you won’t get distracted.

Your desktop is the first thing you see when starting up your computer. Being free of files and shortcuts paired with a great image can really be all you need to go from stressed to calm.

And with you optimizing your computer by improving speed, freeing up space and getting rid of bloat, your computer can now handle anything you want to throw at it.

No more worrying about if you have enough space to download a PDF.

And last, but not least, a decluttered browser makes work more efficient and distraction-free.

What does your desktop look like?

Take the 7-Day Decluttering Challenge

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