Thanks for looking at this instructable! This guide will help set you off on creating a minimal desktop setup with some useful widgets, helping you clear your desktop of clutter. Please keep in mind that this guide is made in mind for Windows 10!
Step 1: Preparing Your Desktop
Clear desktop of all icons (create a folder if needed). Unpin unneeded programs from the taskbar, as the focus is in minimalism.
Step 2: Remove Cortana
Right-click the taskbar and hover over “Cortana”. Check either “Hidden” or “Show Cortana icon.”
Step 3: Hide Additional Taskbar Tools
Right-click the taskbar and this time uncheck “Show Task View button”, “Show People on the taskbar”, “Show Windows Ink Workspace button”, and “Show Touch Keyboard button” if there.
Step 4: Unlock the Taskbar
Right-click the taskbar again, this time unlocking it. This is done by clicking “Lock all taskbars”, removing the checkmark from next to the option.
Step 5: Create Links
Right-click once more, and hover over “Toolbars”. Check “Links”, and a new moveable text (“Links”) should appear on the taskbar.
Step 6: Select Links
Click and hold on the “||” which appears next to “Links.” Doing this should allow you to move the text left/right.
Step 7: Move Links
“Links” should be on the right-hand side of your taskbar icons. Drag “Links” all the way to the left, holding until it drags/pops on the left-hand side of your taskbar icons.
Step 8: Hide Links
Right-click “Links”, and uncheck the options “Show Text” and “Show title”.
Step 9: Centering Shortcuts
Now is a good time to choose which shortcut icons you desire on your taskbar. After choosing so, center those icons by dragging the “||” to the left of them.
Note that the “||” objects take up space, and when the taskbar is locked, the objects are hidden and their space is “deleted”, shifting your icons left.
Step 10: Choose a New Background
Lock your taskbar once done.
Browse around for a desired desktop background. Please note that the best backgrounds for this theme are simple and dark in color. This is so the installed widgets can contrast and be easily visible.
After downloading your new desktop background and setting it, we can begin the installation of widgets.
Step 11: Download Rainmeter
Head to [www.rainmeter.net] and download the latest release. This will be the main program for creating a minimal desktop. Run the executable, and install the standard mode.
Step 12: Unload Stock Widgets
After installing, stock widgets should have appeared on the desktop. Disable these by right-clicking them and clicking “unload skin”.
Step 13: Translucent Taskbar Skin
Head to [https://www.deviantart.com/arkenthera/art/TranslucentTaskbar-1-2-656402039]. There should be a box labeled “Download” with a green arrow on the right. Click on that.
Step 14: Install Translucent Taskbar
Once downloaded, click and run the file to install via rainmeter. This skin will make the taskbar translucent, allowing the background to blend through.
Please note that rainmeter must have been opened at least once (as in previous steps) to correctly install.
Step 15: Install Elegance 2
Rainmeter offers a variety of different skins to choose from, but our focus will be on the skin “Elegance 2”, as it features clean bold fonts. Head to [https://www.deviantart.com/lilshizzy/art/Rainmeter-Elegance-2-244373054] and download the file. Install by running executable.
Step 16: Open Rainmeter
Head to the bottom right of your taskbar and expand the shortcuts box ("^"). In it should be a drawn raindrop icon. That is “Rainmeter”, click to open it.
Step 17: Locate Installed Skins
Once open, head to the “Skins” tab. Under it are where installed skins will appear.
Step 18: Find Translucent Taskbar
Find and expand the folder “Translucent Taskbar”. Click on the .ini file and select "Load" to activate the skin.
Step 19: Find Elegance2
Find and expand the folder “Elegance2”. We will be using the “Clock” and “Date” widgets.
Step 20: Activate Elegance2 Widgets
Expand the folders "Clock" and "Date". There are two options available, “x_hori1.ini” and “x_vert1.ini”, with “hori” being a horizontal layout and “vert” being a vertical layout. Click on and choose your desired .ini and load in the widget.
Step 21: Setting Up Skins/Widgets
Steps 21 to 26 are standard in installing any future widgets, and should work with most skins. Step 22 will be optional.
Step 22: Make Sure Widget Is on Desktop
While clicked on the .ini file, there should be plenty of modifiable data. Head down to “Position” and choose which layer you desire your widget to appear on (for our purposes, select “On Desktop”).
Step 23: Choose a Monitor
On the right, there is a expandable box allowing you to select which monitor you desire your widget to appear on. As of default, make sure “Use default: Primary monitor” is selected.
Step 24: Ensure Widget Is Moveable
Underneath the box, there are multiple checkable boxes. Make sure “Draggable”, “Keep on screen”, and “Save position” are checked, and that “Click through” is unchecked.
Step 25: Choose Widget Location
With this, head to your desktop and your widgets should be moveable. Click and drag to desired locations. An alternate way is to type in desired coordinates in the rainmeter box “Coordinates”.
Step 26: Lock Widgets in Place
After picking a location, uncheck “Draggable” and check “Click through”.
Step 27: Transparency for Widgets
Head down to “Transparency” and select “20%”, then click on “On hover” and choose “Fade In”. This will make it so your widgets do not pop out all the time and distract from your desktop when unneeded.
Step 28: Installing Other Widgets
Repeat steps 21 to 26 for desired widgets.
Step 29: Choose Skin Color
Choose your desired widget colors by loading “SetColors.ini” under "Elegance2" and selecting from there.
Step 30: Minimal Desktop Complete - Additional Widget Options
With this, your desktop is finished. With this as a base, navigating your desktop should be much easier with quick notifications to time and other widgets if desired.
Here are some optional widgets and alternatives if desired:
1) “unFold”* [https://www.deviantart.com/devilrev/art/unFold-A-Launcher-618503449]. *some .ini files may not work and will require editing the .ini file and correcting file locations
1) “Fountain of Colors” [https://www.deviantart.com/alatsombath/art/Fountain-of-Colors-desktop-music-visualizer-518894563]
2) “VisBubble” [https://www.deviantart.com/undefinist/art/VisBubble-Round-Visualizer-for-Rainmeter-488601501]
1) Sharkle** [https://www.reddit.com/r/NightInTheWoods/comments/5wdaca/sharkle_for_rainmeter/] *
*For this, make sure “Click through” is unchecked.