5/17/229:00 am 10 Ways To Clean Your Mac Desktop If you have a messy Mac Desktop and want to clean it up, there are several techniques you can use. You can do something quick and simple to tidy up, or get to work and go through those files to organize them better. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Let's take a look at ways to cleanup your Mac Desktop. MacMost is brought to you thanks to a great group of more than 1000 supporters. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you could read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. Now a common problem Mac users have is a messy Desktop. Maybe your Desktop looks something like this or even worse. So before I show you ways to clean this up let's understand what the Desktop actually is. This is actually a location in the Finder that's no different than any other folder except it will also show you the files on your Desktop. If in the Finder I go to the Desktop folder, which I can see in my case is in iCloud Drive. But if you're not using iCloud Drive you would find it here in the Home folder instead. Either way the Desktop is a normal folder here. You can see all these files. You can view it as Icons, Lists, Column View, and so on. These files here work just the same way as any other files. Like files in the Documents folder, for instance. The only difference is you're seeing them two different ways. Two views of the same folder. One in a regular Finder window like you would see any folder in the Finder. The other view is here with the Icons sitting on the Desktop. These are the same files. You're just looking at them from two different directions. So this Alice.pages file here is the same as this Alice.pages file here. They are the same file. There's only one file, not two. You're just looking at them in two different ways. So there are many different strategies for making your Mac Desktop more useable or at least not as cluttered. Let's start with a simple one. Sorting. So here they are just randomly placed around on the Desktop. But you can have them sorted so you can quickly find things. You should have the Desktop selected for most of what I'm going to show you. So you should see it say Finder here and to make sure the Desktop is selected not a Window just click on some part of the background right there. Now if you go to View you should see Sort By here. You can choose a way to sort these. The default is None which means you can put the icons wherever you want. But if you were to choose something like Name then it's going to resort them in alphabetical order with A at the top right corner and then it goes down and to the left. But that's not the only option. You can Sort By other things as well. For instance, by Kind, like that. So it's going to group things together. Notice how the PhotoShop documents first, then some folders, and then you've got some images, Numbers documents, Pages documents, it's all grouped together. You could also choose things like the Date. So you can have the most recent one, either modified or created. Let's do Modified first. This would be the most recently modified item and this one was modified a long time ago. Now the interesting thing about sorting is doesn't forget the positions of the icons. So if I were to use View, Sort By, and None everything jumps back to its original position. So that means you can use Sorting temporarily if you want to. These are set in a way that you like you can use the Keyboard Shortcuts here. You can see them all like Control Option Command 1 to sort by Name. Control Option Command zero to turn off sorting. So there I sorted them by Name and I can find something I want and then I can go back to the original messy view. If you don't like how these icons don't line up at all you can go to View, Sort By and you can turn on Snap To Grid. That doesn't seem to change anything right away. But if you were to move one of these icons and release it it will snap to the next available grid location which since this is all messy and there's no spot in here for it that's completely clean this is the first available spot. But now I can, kind of, move these around and they will snap into position as best it can. What if you want these to all automatically fit into a grid? Well, you can do that using View and then Clean Up. So if I do it here it cleans everything up. I can see everything lines up in a grid to the closest grid location to wherever it was before. So it's not going to fill in all these extra spaces. If you want all these extra spaces to be filled in you can do that as well. You need to go to View, and then Clean Up By and then you choose a sorting criteria here. So you can do Name and you can see everything is going to resort here, snap to grid, and it's going to do it by name. You could use one of these other ones here like By Kind, or Date, Size, etc. Now once I do a Clean Up like that I can still move these later on and you could see they will Snap To Grid like I have it set. So the Clean Up is kind of a one time action. It's kind of related in a way to Sort By. If you set everything to Sort By then things will remain sorted. So if I sort by Name then I try to move this somewhere else it's going to snap right back because it is going to keep things sorted by name because that is what I have it set to. However, if I just use Clean Up By then it does a one time cleanup and now I can move things around after that. Now when using either Sorting or Cleaning Up you can determine the size of the icons and the spacing. To do that go to View, Show View Options. In here you can change the icon size. So I can make the icons larger or smaller. I can change the grid spacing so I have them further apart or closer together. You can change some other things as well. Like for instance if you want the text to be larger. If you want the label position to be on the right rather than below. You can add item information for some types of files. You can also change how the icons look from having an icon preview which is going to show you things like a little preview of the document or image. Turn that Off here and now you can see it's going to use the standard icon for that app. So here I can see the Numbers documents, for instance, have the same icon. The image documents have the same icon and so on. This might be less useful but it's also a little less cluttered. As a matter of fact if you combine this with Sort By, Kind then it kind of groups everything together nicely. It makes things look a little neater. Now one option that we haven't talked about yet in the View Menu that's actually built specifically for reducing clutter on the Desktop is Use Stacks. If you turn on Desktop Stacks then it will combine similar files into one icon. So, for instance, all the images are combined here. If I click on it you could see how it expands the images and produces them kind of in a list going down and then up here at the top they can click again to shrink that. Documents you can see it expands them all like that. So now if I were to add more images it wouldn't actually add any extra icons to the desktop because they would all go right in here. Folders just remain folders completely outside of stacks. So stacks is just for organizing the files that are there on the Desktop. When you turn Stacks off everything goes back to where it was before. So it's kind of like using the Sorting options. You can usually toggle it On and Off with Control Command Zero like that so it could make it easy to maybe quickly find something if it's very messy and then switch it back Off again. Now having Stacks by Kind isn't the only way to go. You can also group stacks by something else. So, for instance, you can do Date Created and it will group things together. You can see two different years here and the folders are separate. Or you can go in and have it by some other date value. Or you can do kind of the ultimate customization and use Tags. So if I did Tags you can see there's a log in it with no Tags. This here has a Tag. I'll use Command i to see the Tag right there. If I were to Tag something else, let's select this one here, add the Tag Test to this. You can see now there are two things with the Tag Test and they will both be grouped together. So with the clever use of Tags you can actually use Stacks to put the files into any groups that you want. Now you notice here I've got some folders on the Desktop and if I double click on one of those it will open up a Finder window showing me what it's in those folders. Folders are another useful technique. You can create any folders that you want. So let's go and create a new folder. It creates a new folder here on the Desktop like that. I can call this whatever and I could drag several items into it to clean things up. My files are still on my Desktop just in a folder here. So I have to go one extra step to get to them. But it can clean things up pretty quickly by adding a lot of folders. Now you're probably wondering what do I use to actually keep a clean Desktop. I use the technique of not putting any files on the Desktop at all. So if you want to try that then it's easy to clean things up. Just create a New Finder Window here and go somewhere like your Documents folder. Here in your Documents folder there you should create a selection of folders that make sense for you for whatever you use your Mac for. Then Drag and Drop the files into whatever folder they belong to like that until you've cleaned everything up. If you like the idea of having this kind of miscellaneous place where you can easily access stuff maybe just create a New Folder and call it something like Current and make this the main place where you put things. Just add all of your Desktop files to it. Then this is just your go-to location for things. You could even go in the Finder and under Preferences set in General, New Finder Window, Show Other. Set it to that current folder. Or if you want you could drag this current folder to the right side of the Dock and have a quick access to everything in that folder from the Dock. You can drag holding the Option and Command keys down to the Desktop and now I've got one item here on the Desktop. Double click to open it up. Then you've got easy access to all your stuff with only one icon on the desktop. Now there's one other technique I want to show you but it's something I don't recommend using. There is a Terminal command that will actually Hide all the things on your Desktop. So I'm going to launch Terminal with Spotlight here. Then I'm going to type this command, defaults write com.apple.Finder. So change a preference in this preference file. The preference is called CreateDesktop. Set it to False semicolon creates a new command here. KillallfFinder that is just one word there, you can see, will restart the Finder. So when I do that it restarts the Finder but it never creates the virtual Desktop that's here. If I were to open up a new Finder window like this and go to the Desktop all my stuff is still there but the Desktop no longer let us see what's in the Desktop Folder here. I don't recommend using this as it kind of breaks a lot of other functionality. Like I like to click on the Desktop here, just like the Finder, but it won't work and it may break some other ways that you use things. But it could be handy in situations like where you quickly want to do a screen recording and you don't have time to clean up your Desktop. You could use this and then, of course, doing the same command but using True instead of false will set everything back to normal. Hope you found this useful. Thanks for watching.Related Subjects: Finder (285 videos) Related Video Tutorials: 20 Ways To Free Up Disk Space On Your Mac Comments: 11 Responses to “10 Ways To Clean Your Mac Desktop” Jim 1 year ago Relative to 45 seconds into the video, the left-side panel with "Documents" does not show up for me. (Catalina 10.15.7) What can I do to activate that panel? Thanks. Gary Rosenzweig 1 year ago Jim: Do you mean the entire sidebar? Choose View, Show Sidebar. Jim 1 year ago Thanks Gary, but Show Sidebar is not an option listed in View. Gary Rosenzweig 1 year ago Jim: Are you perhaps not in the Finder? What does it say in the menu bar to the right of the ? Jasper 1 year ago Can you see what's wrong with this Shell script? I wanted to toggle Desktop items on/off and put it in a Shortcut. if defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop true; then defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop false; killall Finder; afplay /System/Library/Sounds/Submarine.aiff elif defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop false; then defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop true; killall Finder; afplay /System/Library/Sounds/Ping.aiff fi Jim 1 year ago Yeah, I'm in Finder. I don't want to bother you any further with this minor item. Thanks for your responses. Have a good weekend. Jim Gary Rosenzweig 1 year ago Jasper: The if statement needs to GET the value, so a read instead of a write is needed. And $() is used to make that a value in a shell script. You don't need to test it a second time, because what is not true is false, so a simple else is fine. if $(defaults read com.apple.finder CreateDesktop); then defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop false; killall Finder; afplay /System/Library/Sounds/Submarine.aiff else defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop true; killall Finder; afplay /System/Library/Sounds/Ping.aiff fi Jasper 1 year ago Thank you! (I spent an embarrassingly long time on that!) So, "$(defaults read com.apple.finder CreateDesktop)" means "get the value of CreateDesktop". And it either has a value (1/true) or does not have any value (0/false); then acts on either the first or second command? If anyone else is interested in using this in Shortcuts. It's a Run Shell Script action with Shell: zsh, Input: Input; Pass Input: to stdin, Run as Administrator: unchecked. Gary Rosenzweig 1 year ago Jasper: defaults read com.apple.finder CreateDesktop will get the value. $() will treat that as a variable that a shell script can use. The "if" is then asking if that is true, and 1 is the same as true. So it does the next part. If it wasn't true, then it would do what is after the else. Jim Noyes 1 year ago Hi Gary. I'm still a little confused. I have all my data files and subfiles on my physical iMac desktop, but also saved to my iCloud desktop so I can use them on my laptop. Are all my files on my iMac hard drive and in iCloud? When I back up my hard drive, am I backing up everything on my iCloud and iMac desktops? The more I think about it, the more confused I get! THANKS. Gary Rosenzweig 1 year ago Jim: If you have "Optimize" turned off then they are 100% on your Mac AND iCloud. When you back up, all of the files on your Mac will be backed up, so yes, those files will be backed up. Comments Closed.