How to hide desktop icons on Mac: 3 Quick ways

How to hide desktop icons on Mac

Is your Mac’s beautiful wallpaper hidden behind many app icons, or do you want to share your screen without disclosing your secret apps? No worries; I’ve got you covered. In this article, I’ll share how to hide all desktop icons on your Mac without deleting them. So you can quickly organize and declutter your Mac desktop.

How to hide all desktop icons on Mac using Terminal

  1. Launch Spotlight (cmd (⌘) + Space bar).
  2. Search for and open Terminal.

    Launch Terminal
  3. Type defaults write CreateDesktop false → Press return.

    Type defaults write CreateDesktop false and press return
  4. Write Killall Finder → Hit return.

    Write Killall Finder and hit return

Now you can see that everything you’ve got on your desktop will disappear, and you can enjoy a clean, empty desktop.

To show your desktop icon on your Mac, you need to follow the same steps above with the defaults write CreateDesktop true command.

Hide a single app icon from your Mac desktop

If you only want to remove specific app icons, Terminal lets you do it.

  1. Launch Finder → Press the Command + Shift + H keys to open the Home folder.

    open home folder on mac
  2. Open Terminal via Spotlight Search.
  3. Type chflags hidden → Enter a space → Drag the icon to the Terminal.

    type chflags hidden command in terminal
  4. Hit Enter.

This method will hide that icon instantly from your desktop.

How to hide desktop icons from Mac using Finder

It’s simple to hide desktop icons on a MacBook using the Finder. However, remember that this will not help you get rid of all icons on your Mac desktop. Instead, you can customize which icons to keep on your home screen.

  1. Launch Finder → Click Finder in the menu bar → Choose Settings.

    Click Finder in the menu bar and choose Settings
  2. Shift to the General tab.
  3. Uncheck the boxes next to things you want to hide:
    • Hard disk
    • External disks
    • CDs, DVDs, and iPods
    • Connected servers

      Make sure that you’re on the General tab and uncheck the boxes next to things you want to hide Hard disk External disks CDs, DVDs, and iPods Connected servers

Use third-party apps to hide desktop icons on Mac

No need to worry if the techniques above seem a bit intimidating. Another choice is to download a third-party app called Hidden Me. With only a few clicks, this app can effectively declutter the screen of your Mac. However, this convenience has a $1.99 price tag when downloading the app from the App Store.

Bonus tips to organize your Mac desktop

You can still declutter if you don’t want to delete all icons from your Mac desktop.

  • Use stacks: You may hide unnecessary icons by grouping them together. Right-click on your desktop → Select Use Stacks → Hover your cursor on Group Stacks By Click Kind.
  • Make icons smaller: You may make them look so small that they seem to disappear. Right-click on your desktop Click Show View Options Drag the Icon size slider to the left.
  • Hide desktop folders: If you have any personal files or folders on your Mac home screen, you may hide them. Refer to our guide on how to hide files and folders on Mac.


Is there a keyboard shortcut to hide desktop icons quickly?

There isn’t a default keyboard shortcut to hide desktop icons on macOS. However, you can create a custom Automator service that runs the terminal command for hiding icons and then assign a keyboard shortcut to that service.

Will hiding desktop icons affect my files or folders?

No, hiding desktop icons using the Terminal command or any other method won’t affect the files or folders. It simply changes the visibility of the icons on your desktop. You can access those apps or files from Finder.

Clean up your Mac’s desktop!

Those mentioned above are some simple ways to tidy up your Mac desktop. Yet, one classic approach remains where you can drag items or desktop shortcuts to the bin icon to delete them. Let me know in the comments which method you prefer for decluttering your Mac desktop.

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  1. I have the problem that all desktop thumbnails (except one, of my external hard drive) disappeared but are visible in Finder > Desktop. I tried your Terminal command “defaults write CreateDesktop -bool true; killall Finder” but it didn’t change anything. Can you help? Thanks!

  2. 1. Restart your Mac and see if the issue resolves itself.
    2. Force quit the finder and relaunch. Go to the Apple menu > Force Quit. Then select Finder and click Force Quit.
    3. Open the Finder, and on the menu toolbar, click Finder and then select Preferences. Select the General tab. It will say “show these items on the desktop”. And then please make sure that the items you want to keep on your Desktop are selected. And then close the Finder Preferences window.
    4. Try to disable iCloud Drive. Open the Apple menu, and then go to “System Preferences > iCloud”. Select “Options”, and then uncheck the “Desktop & Documents Folders” box, and then select “Done”.

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