5/4/239:00 am Different Ways To Access Files On Your Mac Desktop The Desktop is a unique folder on your Mac that gives you quick access to the files and folders in it, providing other windows aren't in the way. Here are some ways to get to your Desktop items. Check out Different Ways To Access Files On Your Mac Desktop at YouTube for closed captioning and more options. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Let's take a look at the many different ways that you can access the files on your Desktop. MacMost is brought to you thanks to a great group of more than 1000 supporters. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you can read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. Now often we would say we put files on our Desktop on our Macs. But actually the Desktop is just a folder like any other folder with one special property. That is that you can see the files in the Desktop folder also on your Desktop. So here you can see a few files and a couple folders on my Desktop. But in fact if I open up a new Finder window and then I go to the Desktop folder you could see those same files and folders here. There aren't two copies of them. These are just two ways of looking at the same thing. In fact the Desktop folder is really no different than any other folder. Like say Documents. Here I've got my Documents folder. Here I've got my Desktop folder. In Finder windows they are both just different folders. Just different locations to store files. The only thing that makes the Desktop folder special is that you see these files here on the Desktop as well. The idea is that you have easy access to the files without having a Finder window open. Now sometimes that easy access isn't so easy. For instance what if you have several windows open. So here I've got a bunch of windows open from different apps and you can see how they cover the files on the Desktop. I can't get to them because these files are shown over the Desktop background but underneath all of the windows. The way most people could access them is to simply move windows over or Hide apps or Minimize windows so they can have access to the files that are behind them. But the more that you have on your Desktop, the more space you have to make to get access or the more windows you have to Hide. Now there is an alternative. If you just need to get access to a file on the Desktop very quickly but you don't want to Hide or move these windows. You can use one of two keyboard shortcuts to temporarily Hide all the open windows and see the files on the Desktop. So one is usually to press the F11 key. Then you get this. You get this special view and you can see this border that runs around the edges here. You can also actually see the windows hidden on those edges. It simply moves everything aside temporarily. It is easy to bring those windows back. For instance, pressing F11 brings them all back. So you can Hide them and bring them back. Another keyboard combination that will do this is to use the Command key and F3. Now depending upon your settings you may also need to use the fn or Globe key. So Command and then the fn key and then F3 will do the same thing as F11. Now when you do this the idea is you have quick temporary access to what is on the Desktop. So, for instance, if I were to double click on this example document here it not only opens up the example document but it brings all the other windows back. It exits that mode automatically. So it is just a quick temporary way to get to these items on your Desktop without having to close or move any of your windows. You can also Drag and Drop while doing this. So, for instance, if I wanted to drag this file, say, onto something in the Dock I can bring the Dock up in this mode. I can also press F11 while still dragging and dropping to bring the windows back and complete the drop to say place an image inside of a document or something. By the way you can customize the keyboard shortcut for this. So if the F11 key isn't working for you then go into System Settings, then go to Keyboard, then to Keyboard Shortcuts. Look under Mission Control. You could see here Show Desktop. Make sure that is checked. Then you could see what you've got it set to if it is not F11. Now let's say you have Stage Manager turned on. I'm going to go into Control Center here and turn on Stage Manager. Now you can see I can easily switch between these apps here using the Stage Manager controls here on the left. Notice that the items on the Desktop are missing. If you click on the Desktop, so not one of these but just somewhere on the background, then it actually gives you access to the Desktop and you can Drag and Drop and do everything, just kind of like using F11. You can also switch then to one of these windows and then you can see those Desktop items are gone. So it Hides the Desktop items while you're using Stage Manager. There is actually a setting for this though. So if you go into System Settings and then you go to Desktop & Dock, scroll down to Stage Manager. Click Customize. Then there is Desktop items. If you turn this On then you'll see the Desktop items even if you're viewing one of the windows here. With it Off then the Desktop items are hidden unless you click on the Desktop background like that so you're not actually viewing any of the apps sets in Stage Manager, just the Desktop. You can still Drag and Drop here moving this file, say, over to one of these apps until it opens up and then you can drop it into something. Now sometimes were take apps full screen. I'm going to click the green button here and then this is full screen. If I use Mission Control with Control Up Arrow, you can see I've got Desktop 1 and I've got Safari full screen. So a full screen space here is not really a desktop. It doesn't have anything behind it. There is no Desktop behind it. It's just the app. So you can't get to Desktop items here. Instead you need to use the Mission Control keyboard shortcuts or mouse or trackpad gestures to go between the different spaces. So I can go back here to this Desktop space and I can see these items here. If you've got a lot of windows open and they are covering things a handy thing to do is to create another Desktop, like that, and not put any windows on it. So you can see here on this Desktop I've got these windows and they maybe blocking the Desktop items but on this Desktop I've got no windows so I can have easy access to the Desktop items and I can easily use Control Left and Control Right to go between them. Now this brings up another thing I know people are going to ask. That is, if I've got two Desktops here, Desktop 1 and Desktop 2, I see the same files on both of them on the Desktop. As you can see there. Is there a way to have some files on this Desktop and some files on this Desktop? The answer is NO. There's only one Desktop folder. Files are either in the Desktop folder or they are not. There's no way to have some files assigned to one Desktop folder or one Desktop space and not the other. There is no way to have two different Desktop folders. One assigned to each space. Now, of course, another way to view the Desktop is simply as a folder like I showed at the beginning of this video. So I'll create a new Finder window here and I'm looking at my Documents folder. But instead let's use the Sidebar here to go to the Desktop folder. You could see exactly the same files that are here. Just two ways of looking at the same exact files. If I delete a file from here it is deleted from there because it is only one location. Just two ways of viewing the same thing. Now the Desktop folder is actually either in your Home folder or in iCloud Drive. So if you were to go to your Home folder and you're not using iCloud Drive Desktop & Documents, you would see Desktop & Documents folders here. Since I am using that feature in iCloud Drive if I go to the top level of iCloud Drive I can see my Desktop & Documents folders in there. Go into Desktop and this is the Desktop folder. So this is the real location of the files. This is just a second way of viewing that location. In addition to accessing it in the Sidebar, either here in Favorites or under iCloud, you can also use the Shortcut here in the Go Menu and say Go To Desktop. Notice that there was also the keyboard shortcut Shift Command D to get there. So if I'm somewhere else in the Finder, like my Downloads folder, and I want to get quickly to the Desktop folder I can use Shift Command D to jump there. Now the useful thing about viewing the Desktop file inside a Finder window like this is the ability to be able to go and use the various views. If you view as icons you can see it in a different icon layout in what you see here in the Desktop. If you view as List or as Columns though you can view it in the way that you could never view it on the Desktop. I find this to be a really good way to organize your Desktop. I try to keep a completely clean Desktop now but for years I was like everybody else and I'd have a bunch of different things on the Desktop. Every once in awhile I'd want to do a spring cleaning and doing that with the icons on the Desktop with other windows in the way wasn't very efficient. But opening up a separate Finder window, going to the Desktop, then going to List View, maybe sorting by size, maybe sorting by name, and then going through the items one by one here and as I file things away, in other places like in the Documents folder, they would slowly disappear from my Desktop folder which means it would cleanup my Desktop. Now what if you're not in the Finder but you're in the Finder-like environment that you get when you do File, Open or File, Save As. Well, in this environment you can also access items on the Sidebar so you can click on Desktop there. But even if you don't see that there or you would rather keep you hands on the keyboard you can still use Shift Command D to go to the Desktop here and get quick access to your files in the Desktop folder in an open or saved dialogue. Now there is one more useful way to access the Desktop or any folder really and that is to use the Dock. The right side of the Dock over here contains folders and files. So, if I were to go in the Finder to a new Finder window, and let's say go to the Desktop folder I'm going to Command click here and go up one level so I can see the Desktop folder. Drag it to the right side of the Dock. It has to be to the right side of that line there. Then you can have the Desktop folder there. If I Control click on it I can set to view it in various different ways. I'll have it viewed as List all the time. I'll also Control click it and say Display it as a folder like that. Now I can click here and see all of the things in the Desktop Folder. So even if I have other windows covering the Desktop items on the Desktop, or perhaps I'm in full screen mode, I can go to the Dock, click there, and access the items on the Desktop. Of course, I can do that with any folder as well. Not just the Desktop. So there is some different ways to access the Desktop folder on your Mac. Hope you found this useful. Thanks for watching. Related Subjects: Finder (271 videos) Related Video Tutorials: 10 Of the Quickest Ways To Access Files On Your Mac ― 10 Ways To Clean Your Mac Desktop ― 2 Ways To Find Duplicate Files On a Mac ― 20 Ways To Free Up Disk Space On Your Mac Comments: 5 Responses to “Different Ways To Access Files On Your Mac Desktop” Stu 1 month ago Hi Gary, good suggestions. Just thought I’d mention that you can also use a hot corner to quickly get to the desktop folders. 🤓 Thanks for all you do - Stu Tom Benson 1 month ago Thanks Gary! As always, your videos are so informative. If I delete a file or folder from the Mac desktop does it remove it from the computer completely? Gary Rosenzweig 1 month ago Tom: Yes. Deleting from the Desktop deletes the file in your Desktop folder. The file is deleted. It isn't anywhere else. brad 1 month ago good answer! Dean Kutzler 2 weeks ago Or you can use what I love best for all things the hand gestures. Pinch "OPEN" with a 4 fingers will do the same thing. This way you don't have to fumble with the clunky function button. I also swipe left/right to access the adjacent windows. Leave a New Comment Related to "Different Ways To Access Files On Your Mac Desktop" Name (required): Email (will not be published) (required): Comment (Keep comment concise and on-topic.): 0/500 (500 character limit -- please state your comment succinctly and do not try to get around this limit by posting two comments) Δ
Hi Gary, good suggestions. Just thought I’d mention that you can also use a hot corner to quickly get to the desktop folders. 🤓
Thanks for all you do - Stu
Thanks Gary! As always, your videos are so informative.
If I delete a file or folder from the Mac desktop does it remove it from the computer completely?
Tom: Yes. Deleting from the Desktop deletes the file in your Desktop folder. The file is deleted. It isn't anywhere else.
Or you can use what I love best for all things the hand gestures. Pinch "OPEN" with a 4 fingers will do the same thing. This way you don't have to fumble with the clunky function button. I also swipe left/right to access the adjacent windows.