Software Engineering

How to Quickly Hide all Icons on a Mac’s Desktop

Why the need to hide icons?

Perhaps you have a screen-share session coming up and you want a nice clean desktop to show everyone. Also, nobody will see all your funny files and folders as they wait for you.

Just open the Terminal and enter the following to hide all icons:

If you’re not familiar with the Terminal; it is a Mac application that allows you to enter commands like the ones below, to enable and disable advanced features, among other things.

You can access it by clicking the magnifying glass icon near the top right of your Mac’s screen (near the clock). Then type terminal into the Spotlight search box that appears. (Tip: Press cmd+space to get there even quicker..)

Hide all icons

defaults write CreateDesktop false
killall Finder

When you want to show all your icons again, run this:

Re-Show all icons

defaults write CreateDesktop true
killall Finder

Additional notes

Remember that these files and folders are not truly gone, or hidden at all. They are simply invisible when looking at the Mac’s desktop.

You can still see all the files and folders in the Terminal by issuing the following command:

ls -lash ~/Desktop