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How to Create a Clean and Simple Desktop in Windows 7

Updated on October 8, 2012

If you use your computer a lot, you may find that a cluttered desktop can really start to annoy you. It’s even worse if you have a beautiful background that you can’t see thanks to loads of toolbars and folders. Luckily for us clean-freaks, Windows 7 allows you to make a clean, elegant, and simple desktop, free of all that annoying clutter synonymous with Windows computers.

Cleaning up your desktop is a simple, 2-step process. Read this article, then go to your desktop. I promise, you can have the simplest possible desktop in 2 minutes.

Check "Auto-hide the taskbar"
Check "Auto-hide the taskbar"

Step 1: The Taskbar

Did you know you can make the taskbar disappear? Well, you do now. Simply mouse-over the taskbar, right-click, and select “Properties”. This will bring up a box entitled: “Taskbar and Start Menu Properties”. Under the Taskbar section you need to click on the box marked: “Auto-hide the taskbar”. Voila. Now the taskbar will only be displayed when you move the mouse to the very bottom of the screen. This way you can still use it but it won’t be hanging around on the screen all the time.

Change desktop icons
Change desktop icons

Step 2: The Icons

We’ve all been there. You got a little lazy and saved a file to the desktop. Just the one. But then one became two, and three, and all of a sudden your desktop was drowning in icons. And who has the time to tidy that up? So you left it, cluttered, messy, and somewhere, in the back of your mind, almost impossibly annoying.

The thing is, you need to clear it up. I’m serious. Every single icon on your desktop has a place in one of the Windows Libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Video. Get those files off your desktop and into folders somewhere – just remember where you put them, of course. Hey, if you’re not sure where to put them, just drag all the icons into documents. You can always organise them later.

There is something of an exception for program shortcuts. Maybe you open Firefox every time you use your computer, so you think you need a shortcut on your desktop. You don’t. Pin the program to the taskbar, and get that shortcut in the Recycling Bin. And speaking of the Recycling Bin…

It may have occurred to you that you can’t get rid of that particular icon. I mean, come on; putting the Recycling Bin in the Recycling Bin is rather perverse, not to mention impossible. Now, I’m something of a perfectionist, so there’s no way I’m leaving one icon on my desktop having managed to get rid of all the others. So, how does one get rid of the Recycling Bin icon?

Deselect all the desktop items to stop them being displayed.
Deselect all the desktop items to stop them being displayed.

Well, in days gone by, it was a little tricky; you actually had to edit the Windows Registry to remove it. It was possible, but it was also a bit of a faff. Microsoft has been kind with Windows 7, however. All you need to do is right-click the desktop and click “Personalise”. This will open a new window with a short list of options on the top left. Selecting “Change desktop icons” from the list will open another window, with yet more options. You need to deselect all boxes under the “Desktop Icons” section, including the Recycling Bin. Close the window and return to your desktop, and you should find the only clutter on it is your mouse pointer. Not much to be done about that, I’m afraid.

I hope this tutorial was helpful and comprehensive. Please, feel free to comment should you have any questions or feedback. Thanks for reading.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I have the Music Notation Primer located by shcutort on my desktop as a ready reference and learning guide. Although I am new to classical guitar, I do compose on the piano and keyboard, and I used to write songs for the guitar with singing. When I took up classical guitar after a long absence from playing guitar at all, I did so in order to become knowledgeable about music theory and to sight read for the guitar. In keyboard music I rely on improvisation for compositions, a mode I profoundly worship. However, my desire is to become more fully versed in classical guitar both in theory and in sight reading. I took up classical guitar in truth in order to learn how to play J.S. Bach. Bach is my goal because he is to me the penultimate composer of Western style music. I also began to write a piece for classical guitar, a composition which intrigues me; for this composing work besides the studies I need, to have a reference handy like the Music Notation Primer will give me great encouragement and facility. This is a great gift. So far I have learned one piece well and I am now seeing the perfection of Allegretto by De Visee coming along at last; just today, I have returned to the piece I am composing. The Music Notation Primer will guide me well. Thanks to a fine contributor to the music culture of the Internet, Mr Maurice. We all appreciate your work and renditions here. They make learning possible.Sincerely,Marilynn Stark

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      keeping desktop cluttered is common among users. This article would help them in getting it free of clutter.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Yes, I did find it helpful. I shared today on Twitter and Google+ as well.

    • Nesbyte profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from UK

      You're welcome Scribenet, I'm glad you found this helpful.

    • Scribenet profile image


      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks...I just cleaned my desktop and hid the taskbar! Awesome!

    • Nesbyte profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from UK

      Glad you found it useful, the removing the recycling bin eluded me for a long time too.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I had no idea I could get rid of the recycling bin too! Interesting, thanks.


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