My interpretation of minimalism in the home office is removing all distracting items that are not constantly utilized. For software, this is both easy and cheap. Becoming a hardware minimalist is slightly more expensive and time consuming and I recommend reading Apartment Therapy’s Unplggd for recommendations. […]


My interpretation of minimalism in the home office is removing all distracting items that are not constantly utilized. For software, this is both easy and cheap. Becoming a hardware minimalist is slightly more expensive and time consuming and I recommend reading Apartment Therapy’s Unplggd for recommendations.

Minimal Mac

I recently discovered a website called Minimal Mac, and it is rapidly climbing the charts as my favorite blog. Naturally, it has a simple design that utilizes plenty of white space. Reading this blog has inspired me to clean up my iMac by reducing the clutter. Below are a few quick and easy steps to help you reach software bliss.

Clean Up Your Desktop

Open Preferences for the Finder and deselect everything. Organize your files in the Documents folder. Doing this will remove all files, folders, hard drives, etc. from your desktop.

Finder preferences

Empty Out Your Menu Bar

Do you always use the same Wi-Fi network? Remove the Wi-Fi icon in the Network System Preferences. Time machine backs up every hour automatically, so there’s no need for the icon. Are you unsure if it’s AM or PM? First, get more sleep. Second, remove it in the Date & Time System Preferences. Use your keyboard to change the volume? Remove the Volume icon in Sound System Preferences. You get the idea.


For extra credit you can remove the Spotlight icon using Onyx, a thorough maintenance and optimization tool.


Warning: disabling the icon also disables the hot key to activate Spotlight. Only do this if you don’t use Spotlight or if you’re satisfied with using Command-F in the Finder.

Simplify Your iTunes Controller

The built-in mini controller for iTunes is simple to use, but it’s definitely too large and distracting. I recently discovered the perfect app for reducing your iTunes controller to a single line of text. It’s called Bowtie. It offers a variety of cool themes, but the one that is consistent with this post is Simple Bar. It provides previous and next buttons, the artist, the title, and rating controls.


I don’t usually rate songs in iTunes, so I got fancy and removed the stars from the Simple Bar theme by modifying its plist and html files.

Forget About iChat

Start using Adium. It’s extremely customizable and it supports a slew of networks (including Twitter). Below is a screenshot of my preferences that made my buddy list virtually unnoticeable.


Empty Out Your Dock

Leave only the most essential applications in your dock. For me that’s Mailplane, Adium, Safari, Google Reader Fluid app, iTunes, and Tweetie.


Search for a Desktop background

Find a desktop background that is both soothing and non-distracting. For me, that’s a nature-related black and white photo. Here’s the one I chose. You can find more by searching Flickr.

Ten Minutes Later

Below is my new desktop after following these steps. Smaller dock, quiet buddy list, empty menubar, serene background, clean desktop.


What are some ways you keep your Mac minimal?

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  1. Thanks for the menu bar tips. Mine is littered with applications. I may switch from having programs like LittleSnapper in the menu bar to the Dock to make room for other more important menu bar apps.

    You should mention Quicksilver, LaunchBar, Google Quick Search Box, etc in the Dock section. These make the Dock almost completely unnecessary aside from the programs that give you helpful notifications (and those that are frequently opened using other files via drag-and-drop)

    1. Hey Greg. I’ve tried all of the Quicksilver-esque software. They’re all great for the first ten minutes. My problem is I always forget to use them! I’ll keep trying though.
      This morning I read about someone who quit using Quicksilver in exchange for Spotlight. I gave it a try: “command+space f…i…r… enter” and boom Firefox opened. Surprisingly fast and easy.

    2. Talking about launchers that help you remove desktop clutter, the other day I found a new one called Berokyo. I’ve tried it and it’s very good. Now I have everything organized in several docked shelves/cabinets with different styles. Very cool!


  2. Nice. No more clutter, exactly what I like.

    1. Glad to hear it!

  3. I’ve been reading this blog for the past 3 weeks and has become one of my personal favorites. It’s motivated me to clean up my Mac. I’ve got rid of my dock, have a few menu bar items and living off of Quicksilver. The only thing I am looking for is the perfect minimalitic wallpaper.

  4. Could you share that wallpaper? its nice.

    Thanks, I like to be minimalist

  5. cmd + space for spotlight is a fantastic alternative to quicksilver and the like. You can even use spotlight to do simple maths.

    type “cmd + space … 487/8″

    and then the answer will appear. Beats having to open the calculator app or worse go to dashboard. I haven’t got the bottle to try nested functions and check if they are right as I’m an engineer and the correct answer is quite important. If any one has experience of this it would be great to hear.

    Great post, now have two new blogs to peruse when procrastinating!

    1. I’m not really a fan of spotlight. It can be slow and not as feature filled as Quicksilver.

  6. You can also use DeskShade. I have some files I HAVE TO keep on my desktop so this is the perfect option since it allows me keep a clean desktop whenever I´m not interacting with it.

  7. Except… I love my clutter. My clutter defines me. I am my clutter, plus steam, plus forward motion, plus goals… Now where did I put that… there it is!… no, not that, the other… wait! No, maybe I filed it…

  8. This is AWESOME … being a geek I typically like buttons, bling, etc all over, but this minimalistic approach is where it’s at. Menu clear and desktop clear. Loving it so far.

  9. Hey great tips!
    Here are my results:
    (in the second image, I made a stack for Screenshots for those quick screenshots with built in System Grab, changed the directory for them with the Secrets Preference Pane)


    1. How did you replace your dock icons with text?

    2. They’re PNGs. It’s an icon pack called The Kobhens.

      I actually just made the Adium Icon myself before I knew there was an update for Adium.

  10. I recommend DragThing for the construction of small minimalist docks containing exactly what you want, located where you want them and behaving how you want them to. Camouflage is a great free utility for hiding all the desktop icons at those times when you don’t want to see them (at home, on breaks, etc). Need more quick access items than a minimal dock allows? Install Xmenu to put a menubar drop-down list of oft-needed folders. Finally, use Namely to quickly launch applications by invoking a hot key and entering the first 1-2 letters of the application name. Yeah, yeah, I know Quicksilver blah blah blah. I like my set up better. Anyway, the whole QS scene is just a little creepy.

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