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I saw this desktop on one of my classmate's laptop and I forgot to ask him how he did this to his desktop. But it was simple text on the desktop. I would like to have just text instead of icons on the desktop.

Something similar to what is in the top-right of this screenshot:

screenshot of example

How do I do that without downloading any crapware or any of those theme programs?

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Maybe Active Desktop, but that hasn't been around since Windows 98. Maybe he did use some sort of a theme program. – Doktoro Reichard Dec 29 '13 at 7:40

This could be done by a number of programs. Rainmeter, Samurize, Rocketdock, and more.

what you're probably looking for, without all the theme alternating parts, is a app called xwidgets. It has a simple drag and drop interface, and should do what you need.

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You need to give your shortcut an empty icon. The quickest way to do so is:

Right click on icon -> Properties -> Change Icon... -> Backspace or delete to delete the text -> Enter (this should point you to the default Shell32.dll) -> Choose an empty icon (should be in the 6th column)

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Just point to this as the icon. C:\Windows\System32\imageres.dll

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