Quickly Hide All The Icons On Your Desktop [OS X Tips]

There are times when you just need to clear off the icons on your Desktop, like when you’re giving an important presentation at work. No one wants to see all the images you’ve saved from the internet, right?

I used to solve this problem with a Sort Me folder on the Desktop, just select all in a Finder window focused on the Desktop, and drag it all to the Sort Me folder.

There’s an even faster and easier way to hide all the icons on your Desktop, though, using the Terminal.

Quickly launch Terminal using an app launcher like Alfred or just double clicking the app in your Utilities folder.

Once there, type or paste the following command in:

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop false

then restart the Finder with the following:

killall Finder

This will hide all the icons on your Desktop in one fell swoop so you can go about your business on the big projector.

Put. The icons. Back.

Put. The icons. Back.

When you’re done and you want to see that giant pile of clutter again, simply reverse the command:

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop true
killall Finder

There you have it – quick, easy, and trouble free. I’ll never have to use a Sort Me folder again.

  • http://howieit.com Howie Isaacks

    Interesting tip… but why not just avoid cluttering up your desktop in the first place? I’ve always been a neat freak about my desktop, so I keep a “Current” folder where I stash all of my “current” stuff. I clean out and organize it about once a week.

  • Chad Tanner

    why not just create a blank “space” and cmd-> to it!!! no need to open “Terminal” and type commands!!! I also agree with “howieisaacks”, keep a clean desktop! DUH! why do people insist on making life complicated!

    • DotFreelance

      All of your spaces will be a copy of your desktop, with all of the things on it.

  • http://mithical.com/ mithical

    There’s an easier method. Get HideDesktop for Mac (not on App Store). Has Enable and Disable features. Been using it since last year.

  • http://twitter.com/whcir Rich W

    Saving something to the desktop or a folder on the desktop is not easier to saving it in the file system. So, why not have a “Me” folder or “Current” folder in the Documents folder? It’s not that hard to open Finder when you need access to a file or want to drag and drop it somewhere else.

    I’m such a clean freak about my desktop that I not only don’t save things there, but I hide the dock.

  • http://www.computersnyou.com/ Alok Yadav

    Nice Tip . I keep my desktop clean .

  • DotFreelance

    You could also write this into a small Apple script with a toggle. It would be trivial to locate it again.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.

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