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Windows 10: Minimalist Desktop guide

A minimalist desktop is a desktop that’s practical, but free of clutter such as too many icons, too many menus, or any UI elements that a user doesn’t need. Creating one isn’t hard but it will always be different depending on the needs of an individual user and what’s important or unimportant for them. Here are a few basic steps you can follow to create a minimalist desktop on Windows 10.

Minimalist desktop on Windows 10

Minimalist desktop without third party apps

If you’re looking to create a minimalist desktop on Windows 10 but you do not want to install any apps to change how it looks, here are a few basic things you can do.

  1. Hide desktop icons. Right-click on an empty area of the desktop. Go to View and from the sub-menu, uncheck the ‘Show desktop icons’ option.
  2. Auto-hide the taskbar. Open the Settings app and go to the Personalization group of settings. Select the Taskbar tab and set it to auto-hide in desktop mode.
  3. Remove all tiles from the Start menu. If you do not like the Start menu and think its tiles offer a cluttered interface, you can remove all of them and just have a simple apps’ list. You can also hide the app’s list and pin all your favorite app tiles, files, and folders to the Start menu in a neat layout.
  4. Optional: You can give the full-screen version of the Start menu a try and see if it suits your minimalist needs better. It can be enabled from the Settings app. Go the Personalization group of settings. Select the Start tab, and turn on the ‘Use Start full screen’ button.
  5. Hide system tray icons in the overflow menu. The system tray will always show you the date and time but every other icon on it can be hidden in its overflow menu. This helps because the taskbar will appear when you position your mouse cursor over it so keeping the clutter hidden is a good idea.
  6. On that note, it might be a good idea to unpin unnecessary items from the taskbar.
  7. Change the wallpaper to one that is simple. Flat images work best instead of high definition photos. You can go with a simple wallpaper that favors dark colors or find something that has color in it but isn’t too busy.
  8. Finally, you can disable color on the title bar, the Start Menu, and the taskbar. To do that, open the Settings app and go to the Personalization group of settings. Uncheck the ‘Start, Taskbar, and action center’ option, and the ‘Title bars and windows borders’ option.

Minimalist desktop using third-party apps

If you’re willing to install a few apps on your system, your desktop could look exponentially better than if you were to just rely on the stock customization options that Windows 10 has. For a nice, minimalist desktop, we recommend using the following apps.

The above apps are great for changing the UI of Windows 10 and you can use all, or some of them, depending on what suits you.

Creating the minimalist desktop

  1. First, hide the desktop icons. Right-click an empty area on the desktop and go to View. Uncheck the ‘Show desktop icons’ option. If you can’t live without desktop icons, consider limiting them, make sure they are aligned to the grid.  Don’t make a habit of saving files to it.
  2. Change the desktop wallpaper to something that’s minimalist.
  3. Decide what you want to do with the taskbar; we have given you tools to hide it completely or to make it transparent.
  4. Find a dock or launcher skin for Rainmeter. This will take a good deal of time since there are lots of Rainmeter skins out there. Find one that suits you, and that is easy to customize. We used BlueRose. It is very easy to customize and presents everything in a neat, clean layout.


Remember that blacks and greys aren’t what make up a minimalist desktop. A minimalist desktop is all about a clean interface where nothing that isn’t needed ever appears. It will need to be tweaked from time to time e.g., if you want to add music controls or the weather forecast, or if you want to add more apps to your launcher. Removing color isn’t key. You can have a very colorful minimalist desktop. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out DeviantArt or one of the many Rainmeter skins that are available and you’ll find lots of ideas. Some minimal desktop enthusiasts include the wallpaper in the overall design of the desktop so that it is both aesthetically nice and useful.

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