Windows offers an easy option to hide desktop icons by right-clicking on the desktop. You can simply disable “View > Show desktop icons” option from the context menu. However, there are no context menu options available in Mac to hide desktop icons. If you have cluttered desktop and wonder how to hide the icons, here are the suggestions for you.
Arranging Desktop Icons in Mac
Mac offers various options to manage the desktop icons.
- Completely hide desktop icons from Terminal app
- Hiding system drive icons from Finder preferences
- Remove icon preview and item info details
- Grouping and aligning desktop icons
- Hide desktop icons with Stage Manager in macOS Ventura or later version.
1. Hide or Show Desktop Icons in Mac
You can completely hide or show all desktop icons using a command in Terminal app.
- Open Finder app and go to “Applications” folder.
- Go to “Utilities” folder and double click on Terminal app to open it.
- Copy paste or type the below command and press enter.
defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop false
- This will not immediately hide the icons on the desktop. You should relaunch the Finder app or restart you Mac for the changed to take effect. You can do this in multiple ways. Hold option key and right-click on the Finder icon on your Dock (otherwise, option + control + click). Select “Relaunch” option and go to your desktop. Now, you will see all the icons are hidden.
- Alternatively, you can relaunch Finder from Terminal app using the following command.
- For showing the desktop icons back, simply change the false value to true in the command.
defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop true
- Again, make sure to relaunch Finder using killall command.
2. Hiding Drive Icons from Finder Preferences
Sometimes, you will see hard disk and connected external drive icons on your desktop. If you do not want to show the drive icons, you can easily disable them.
- Open Finder app and go to “Finder > Preferences…” menu.
- On the “Finder Preferences” pop-up, go to “General” tab.
- Disable “Hard disks”, “External disks”, “CDs, DVDs, iPods” and “Connected servers” options showing below “Show these items on the desktop” section.
Now, you will not see system drives and server icons in your desktop.
3. Arranging Desktop Icons on Mac
Though these options will not hide desktop icons, you may use them to arrange the icons properly. Simply control + click or right-click on the empty area of your desktop. Select one of the following options from context menu.
- Snap to Grid – if the icons are overlapping on the desktop, select “Sort By > Snap to Grid” option. This will arrange the icons clearly visible avoiding overlapping one on another.
- Clean Up and Clean Up By – use these options to clean up your desktop by arranging the icons to grid and sort the icons based on selected choice.
- Use Stacks – this will group similar files and stack the icons.
Note that when you have enabled stacking, other two “Sort By” and “Clean Up” options will not be available in the menu.
4. Hiding Item Info and Icon Preview
By default, all desktop icons will show the preview of the items. This may create privacy issues when you have private pictures showing its preview in icons. In this case, select “Show View Options” from the right-click context menu. This will open a pop-up like below where you can disable “Show icon preview” option. Now, you will see generic icons based on filetype instead of preview.
By default, all desktop folders will show item detail of how many files are in the folder like 13 items. You can disable “Show item info” option to remove this information showing below each folder in your desktop.
5. Using Stage Manager to Hide Desktop Icons
Apple introduced a new feature called Stage Manager in macOS Ventura (version 13.0). You can use this to hide desktop icons and work distract free.
- Go to Apple menu and select “System Settings…” option.
- Select “Desktop & Dock” option and scroll down on the right pane to find “Stage Manager”.
- Turn on the switch to enable it and click “Customize” button.
- This will show a list of options and turn off the switch against “Desktop items” option.
- This will hide all desktop icons and show them when you click on the empty area in desktop.