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Five Ways to Become a Mac Minimalist

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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?

58 Responses to “Five Ways to Become a Mac Minimalist”

  1. Oscar C.

    About the iTunes controller, something more minimalistic would be having nothing at all. I’ve configured Quicksilver to interact with Growl and iTunes, so I close itunes window and control it through hotkeys and growl tells me what song is playing.

    I say this because people is forgetting that a lot of people still use Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, and they don’t have software for it now (everything is for Leopard or Intel-only) so we must think about some workarounds.

  2. i’m having some troubles with bowtie. it won’t let me change the theme, and also, i have two separate mini bars on my screen for some reason. it won’t allow me to delete it, i can’t get into the settings for it in any way, and it also stays on top of any windows i have open… Help?