Skip navigation

How do I hide my icons on my desktop if I want them not to show for awhile?  I am running OSX Snow Leopard.

13059 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Jun 10, 2012 6:23 PM by Matzky RSS
Phil Bergin Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Apr 13, 2012 11:27 AM

I thought I used to be able to hide my icons that are on my desktop but since loading Snow Leopard I don't seem to be able to do that.  Did something change?

Mac Power PC G4, Mac OS X (10.4.1)
  • Klaus1 Level 8 Level 8 (43,330 points)

    You show as using a PPC G4 running Tiger, but you refer to Snow Leopard which a G4 cannot run. Please clarify.


    Do you mean the icons in the Dock or some you have on your desktop?

  • Klaus1 Level 8 Level 8 (43,330 points)

    I don't know of a way to do that. Finder Preferences only refer to showing icons for hard drives, iPods etc.


    But what are they doing on your desktop in the first place?


    Performance tip: Keep the Desktop clutter-free (empty, if possible)



    Mac OS X's Desktop is the de facto location for downloaded files, and for many users, in-progress works that will either be organized later or deleted altogether. The desktop can also be gluttonous, however, becoming a catch-all for files that linger indefinitely.



    Unfortunately - aside from the effect of disarray it creates - keeping dozens or hundreds of files on the Desktop can significantly degrade performance. Not necessarily because the system is sluggish with regard to rendering the icons on the desktop and storing them in memory persistently (which may be true in some cases), but more likely because keeping an excessive number of items on the Desktop can cause the windowserver process to generate reams of logfiles, which obviously draws resources away from other system tasks. Each of your icons on your desktop is stored as a window in the window server, not as an alias. The more you have stored, the more strain it puts on the window server. Check your desktop for unnecessary icons and clear them out.



    Keeping as few items as possible on the Desktop can prove a surprisingly effective performance boon. Even creating a single folder on your Desktop and placing all current and future clutter inside, then logging out and back in can provide an immediately noticeable speed boost, particularly for the Finder.



    And it is why Apple invented 'Stacks'.

  • jsd2 Level 5 Level 5 (6,200 points)

    It's possible to reversibly hide all the icons on the Desktop, not just disk icons, without moving any of your files and folders that you normally keep in the Desktop folder.  When you are finished hiding them you can quickly bring the Desktop back to its normal appearance, again without moving anything.


    There is a Finder preference for this, but it's not accessible from the Finder Preferences Menu. You can do it in Terminal, but the free utility TinkerTool is much more user-friendly. It's Finder tab includes  this feature:


    Screen shot 2012-04-13 at 9.04.20 PM.png



    When you check the "Disable Desktop features"  checkbox, the following explanation pops up:


    The Desktop will be switched off.


    You have enabled the advanced preference setting of the Finder to no longer use the borderless background window which is known as “Desktop”. All icons on the Desktop will disappear the next time the Finder will be launched.


    No files will be moved or deleted. As before, you can access all files currently lying on the Desktop via the folder “Desktop” in your private home folder. You can access all disk volumes via the “Computer” window of the Finder.


    You then click the button "Relaunch Finder". To reverse this feature, just run TinkerTool again and uncheck the box.

    Mac mini (Late 2009), Mac OS X (10.6.8), dual-boot Lion OS X 10.7.3
  • mlblacy Calculating status...

    actually, there is an easy, no fuss solution that will bring instant desktop bliss.

    Head to Macrabbit & download their Deskshade program. It is free, and I have been using it for years.

    It basically creates another floating desktop over all of your untidy crap. It toggles on/off easily from a toolbar +/- selection. Desktop items are always still viewable from within your Finder folder. I have used it for years and can attest to the blood pressure lowering effect of a one-click desk "cleaning". Priceless.



  • Matzky Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)


    Clean up the Desktop by Hiding Desktop Icons

    Launch Terminal and type the following:
    defaults write CreateDesktop -bool false

    After hitting enter, you’ll want to kill the Finder so that it relaunches and the changes take effect:
    killall Finder

    All of the files will still exist, but they’re now discretely hidden in your home folder’s “Desktop” directory rather than cluttering up your actual desktop.

    To show the Desktop icons again, open the Mac Terminal and type the following:
    defaults write CreateDesktop -bool true

    Again, kill the Finder and your icons will show on the desktop as usual.


More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked By (0)


  • This solved my question - 10 points
  • This helped me - 5 points
This site contains user submitted content, comments and opinions and is for informational purposes only. Apple disclaims any and all liability for the acts, omissions and conduct of any third parties in connection with or related to your use of the site. All postings and use of the content on this site are subject to the Apple Support Communities Terms of Use.