How to Hide Desktop Icons on Mac

Some people are good at managing their desktop space and keeping it really neat and tidy. I’m not one of them, and my Mac’s desktop is full of folders and files. I love chaos and will not change my habits in the near future. However, in some cases I need to hide my desktop files. For example, if I need to screenshot any of my articles or give a presentation at work, I prefer to show a cleaner desktop as it’s easier for people to focus on the right things. Whether you’re struggling to keep your desktop clean or thrive on chaos like me, you’ll encounter moments when you need to hide all that clutter quickly. For those quick moments, Here’s how to quickly hide desktop icons on macOS:

Note: I tried the following methods on my 2017 MacBook Pro running macOS Mojave and other Macs running macOS Sierra and macOS High Sierra, so they should work on your Mac as well.

Hide Desktop Icons on macOS Using Terminal

The terminal is like a treasure trove. With the right commands, you can do wonders on your Mac, so it’s no surprise that you can use Terminal to hide desktop icons on Mac. you can just start terminal by searching in Spotlight and run the following command:

defaults write CreateDesktop false

After doing that, use the following command in Terminal to restart Finder:

killall Finder

screenshot of terminal command to restart finder on mac

Note that the ‘F’ in ‘Finder’ must be capitalized, otherwise the terminal will tell you that it found no matching processes.

When you do this, all the icons on your Desktop will be hidden. To show the icons later, simply use the following command:

defaults write CreateDesktop true

and then restart Finder with the following command:

killall Finder

Use Third-Party Apps to Hide Desktop Icons on Mac

While using Terminal to hide desktop icons on a Mac is not a difficult task, if you need to hide/show desktop icons on macOS very regularly, using Terminal may not be the most efficient for you. In such a case, you can use a third-party app that will let you hide or show desktop icons with just one click. I recommend HiddenMe (Free) For this.

Screenshot of HiddenMe's App Store listing

After downloading and launching the app from the App Store, all you have to do is click the menu bar icon for HiddenMe followed by ‘Hide Desktop Icons.’ That’s it, your desktop icons will now be hidden.

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Screenshot showing HiddenMe's hide desktop icons option

To show desktop icons later, simply click the HiddenMe icon in the menu bar and ‘Show Desktop Icons’.

You can also create a keyboard shortcut to enable/disable HiddenMe and make your desktop look clean with just a simple button press no matter what app you are in. Make sure you are not using a shortcut that is only used by macOS. or another application or shortcut may not work properly. You can create a shortcut by clicking the icon. HiddenMe icon in the menu bargoing ‘Preferencesusing ,’ and ‘Shortcut‘ choice.

screenshot of HiddenMe preferences screen with keyboard shortcut explanation

Bonus: Use Desktop Stacks on macOS Mojave

If the only reason you want to hide desktop icons is to make your desktop look tidy and clean for screenshots and presentations (like me), there is an easier and better option you can use.

With macOS Mojave, Apple brought a new “Desktop Stacks” feature to the Finder that automatically brings together files of the same type to make your desktop look tidy and clean.

To enable Desktop Stacks, all you have to do is Launch Finder, click ‘View’ then click ‘Use Stacks’ and that’s it.

GIF of macOS Mojave's desktop stacks feature in action

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

Note: As I mentioned earlier, Desktop Stacks are only available in macOS Mojave. If you’re using an older version of macOS, you’ll need to use Terminal or an app like HiddenMe to make your desktop look clean.

SEE ALSO: How to Add Fields to Organize Apps in the Dock on Mac

Hide Desktop Icons to Give Mac a Cleaner Look

By using any of the above methods, you can ensure that no one catches you off guard and that you are ashamed of your digital cleaning habits. Now you can organize your desktop the way you want and clean it up with a few keystrokes when the time comes. So, try these methods and let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Moyens Staff
Moyens I/O Staff has motivated you, giving you tips on technology, personal development, lifestyle and strategies that will help you.