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(Full Guide) How to Hide Icons on Mac Desktop?

Updated on Thursday, May 16, 2024

iBoysoft author Vain Rowe

Written by

Vain Rowe
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee


(Full Guide) How to Hide Icons on Mac Desktop?

Summary: Sometimes, you might need a well-organized desktop on Mac for temporary use, and hiding icons is a wonderful idea. This post is going to introduce some easy and effective ways to hide icons on the desktop Mac. Meanwhile, you can obtain a great tool -- iBoysoft MagicMenu, which is a wonderful helper with hiding or unhiding files, folders, and icons function on Mac.

hide icons on Mac desktop

The demand for a clear and well-organized desktop often comes suddenly. For example, you may want to take a screenshot, or, you may want to share your screen in a presentation. At this moment, moving all files and apps one by one into a folder, or organizing the desktop urgently is really troublesome.

If you don't want to remove icons on your Mac desktop, don't worry, Apple grants you a clear desktop with easy ways -- hide icons on the Mac desktop. This article offers you several ways how to hide all icons on a Mac desktop.


How to hide icons on Mac desktop with Terminal

The Terminal is a powerful terminal emulator designed for macOS, which enables you to hide and show all icons on the desktop on Mac by certain common lines such as hiding the external hard drive from the Mac desktop. If you're an advanced Mac user, running strings of command lines in Terminal must be a piece of cake for you. Why hesitate? Try it now!

Hide all icons on the Mac desktop with Terminal 

  1. Apply Spotlight Search to launch to Terminal application on Mac.
  2. Type or copy the following command line and paste it into Terminal App, and hit Enter.defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool false
  3. Type the command line in your Terminal window, and then hit Enter key.killall Finder
  4. Then the files and apps on your desktop are hidden.hide icons on Mac with Terminal

After running the command lines above, the only thing left on your desktop is the lower toolbar, where you can launch apps and files. After temporary use,  you can put files and apps back on your screen by running the following command line on your Mac:

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool true; killall Finder

Hide a single icon on a Mac desktop with Terminal

The command line for hiding a single icon is quite different from that of hiding all icons, but the operations are quite the same easy. You can try the steps provided to hide a specific icon on a Mac desktop:

  1. Launch Terminal application via Home Folder on Mac.
  2. Type or copy the following command line and paste it into the Terminal app:chflags hidden
  3. Enter a space, and then drag the item that you want to hide to the Terminal window.hide a single icon on Mac desktop with Terminal
  4. Hit Enter key to confirm your actions on hiding icons on the Mac desktop.

You can open the hidden file or app via Finder or Spotlight Search, despite you cannot see them on the Mac desktop. If you want to unhide a single item, follow the steps:

  1. Run Terminal via Launchpad or Spotlight Search.
  2. Type the command line in the Terminal window:chflags nohidden
  3. Enter a space by hitting the Space key, and then paste the file path.
  4. Press down the Enter key, and then the item will show on your desktop.

With the Terminal app, you can hide any icons on your Mac desktop. But if the strings of command lines are not your cup of tea, there are additional ways for you to apply to hide icons on a Mac desktop. Keep reading!

If you find that desktop files don't appear on Mac, even though you have applied the Terminal app to unhide them. Take it easy, sometimes you just encounter the situation that desktop files disappeared on Mac. This problem is not as tough as hardware problems, and you can fix it successfully with more patience.

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How to hide icons on Mac desktop via Finder

Finder is a default file manager and graphic UI shell for macOS, and you can hide icons from the Mac desktop by several operations with its help. Here are the detailed steps to hide icons with Finder on your device:

  1. Click the Finder in the toolbar on your Mac.
  2. Select Preferences in the context menu of Finder.
  3. Select the General tab in the Finder Preference home window.
  4. In Show these items on the desktop menu, uncheck all the options.hide icons on Mac desktop with Finder

These operations hide the hard disk icons, external disk icons, CD, DVD, and iPods icons, and the connected servers icons on your Mac desktop.  If you want to access these items, you can launch Finder > open these items in the left menu bar of Finder.

If you want to unhide the icons, you can check the items back in the Finder Preference home window, which is really convenient and easy.

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How to hide icons on Mac desktop with iBoysoft MagicMenu

iBoysoft MagicMenu is an outstanding right-click enhancer. Available for macOS High Sierra to macOS Monterey, this wonderful tool enables you to hide any icons on a Mac desktop. Also, iBoysoft MagicMenu guides you on how to hide files and folders on Mac with easy and quick operations. With outstanding software, it's easier for you to clean and organize the icons and files on your desktop.

Here are how to hide icons on a Mac desktop by applying iBoysoft MagicMenu:

  1. Free download and install iBoysoft MagicMenu on your device.
  2. Right-click the blank space on your desktop.
  3. Select the Common option in the dropdown menu, and choose the Hide All Items option.hide icons with iBoysoft MagicMenu on Mac

If you want to unhide all times or files from the desktop, right-click on the blank space on your desktop, select Common, and select Unhide All items.

iBoysoft MagicMenu can also hide a single or selected icon from the Mac desktop. Open the folder or disk that contains the item that you want to hide, locate the item and right-click it, and then select the Hide Selected Items in the Common context menu.

If you want to know what icons are hidden, you can check them by selecting the List Hidden Files in the Common dropdown menu.

Since this article presents you with how to hide and unhide icons on a Mac desktop, you can apply the methods mentioned with ease. But when you find that Mac desktop icons disappeared, don't worry, it might not be your misoperation. Try to restart your Mac and then unhide your icons again, and then wait for the icons to appear.


Now that you know how to hide icons on a Mac desktop, you can hide and unhide them to meet your requirements. Compared to deleting them and recovering them back, or moving them to a folder and then moving them back for temporary use, the ways provided by this article are quite easy and effective.

Apart from that, you can obtain a wonderful hiding icons tool -- iBoysoft MagicMenu, which enables you to hide or unhide all icons and selected icons with simple operations. If you're interested in this outstanding software, why not try it now?

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