How to Hide Desktop Icons on Mac?

Hide Desktop Icons on Mac

Some people are very good at managing their desktop space and keeping them neat and tidy. Well, I’m one of those people, and I am not going to change my habit for anyone anytime soon. However, I do know how you can hide your desktop files on certain occasions because this is what this article is about.

Let us illustrate, if I have to attach a screenshot in any of my articles, or maybe when I have to give a presentation at work, I would instead show the audience a cleaner desktop, as it is straightforward for them to focus on the right things then.

Whether you are making an effort to keep your desktop clean or you are striving, you’ll come across moments when you have to hide all that clutter quickly. For those quick moments, here is how you can quickly hide your desktop icons in macOS.

Take note that this method has been tried using 2017 MacBook Pro running on macOS Mojave, and other Macs running on macOS Sierra, and macOS High Sierra, so these should very well work for your Mac as well.

Hide Desktop Icons in macOS Using Terminal

The Terminal is like a collection of treasure. You can do a lot of wonders on your Mac with the right commands, so it’s no surprise that you can use it to hide desktop icons on a Mac.

You can launch the Terminal by searching for it using Spotlight and run the following command:

defaults write CreateDesktop false

Once you have done that, use the following command in the Terminal to restart Finder:

killall Finder

Bear in mind that the ‘F’ in ‘Finder’ should always be capital, else the terminal will merely tell you that there were no matching processes.

Once that is done, all the icons on your desktop will be hidden. And to unhide them later, you can use the following command:

defaults write CreateDesktop true

And then restart Finder with the same code as before:

killall Finder

Using Third-Party Apps to Hide Desktop Icons on Mac

While you are using the Terminal to hide the desktop icons on a Mac is not a difficult task, if you want to hide or unhide desktop icons on a very regular basis, using the Terminal might seem not to be the most efficient method.

In such a situation, you can use a third-party app that will let you hide icons or unhide them with just a click away. I am recommending HiddenMe (free) for this.


Once you have downloaded the app from the App Store, and launched, then click on the menu bar icon for HiddenMe, and then click on ‘Hide Desktop Icons.’ that is it, your desktop icons will now be hidden from prying eyes.

However, to unhide the desktop icons whenever you choose to, you can click on the HiddenMe icon in the menu bar and click on ‘Unhide Desktop Icons.’

Also, you can create a keyboard shortcut to enable/disable HiddenMe and make sure your desktop looks clean with just the push of a simple keystroke no matter which app you are in.

Just be sure not to use a shortcut that is already being used by the system (macOS), or another app else the alternative might not work correctly.

You can also create a shortcut by clicking on the HiddenMe icon in the menu bar, head to ‘Preferences,’ and then use the ‘Shortcut’ option.


Use Desktop Stacks in macOS Mojave

If the only reason you are hiding your desktop icons is to make your desktop look neat and tidy for screenshots and presentations like me, there is a more comfortable and much better option that you can use.

With macOS Mojave, Apple introduced a new ‘Desktop Stacks’ feature to Finder which automatically ensures that your desktop looks clean by combining files of the same type.

To enable Desktop Stacks, you will need to launch the Finder, click on ‘View’ and then click on ‘Use Stacks‘ and its done.


Alternatively, you can use the keyboard ‘command Control + Command + O’ to enable Desktop Stacks on your Mac.

Like I have mentioned earlier, Desktop Stacks is only available in macOS Mojave. So if you’re using an older version of macOS, you will have to use the Terminal or a third party app like HiddenMe to make your desktop look clean and neat.

In Conclusion

By using either of the methods mentioned above, you can ensure that no one will be able to catch you by surprise and make you feel less insecure about your digital cleanliness. Now, you can mess up your desktop to your heart’s desire and when the moment comes, you can clean it up with a few keystrokes. Go ahead and try out these methods and let us know the result by using the comments section below.

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