Declutter your Mac desktop: Get more productive

Let’s get back to how things used to be when your Mac was all shiny and new. Follow these tips to clean up and organize your desktop.

How to organize desktop items on Mac

The first step is to add some kind of structure to your desktop. You can do this by grouping files into folders of related items.

  1. Right click on a black space on your desktop.
  2. Click New Folder.
  3. Click on the newly created folder.
  4. Give your folder a name.
  5. Drag items from your desktop into the folder.

When you’ve grouped things into folders you can sort them into grids.

  1. Right click on a black space on your desktop.
  2. Click Clean Up By.
  3. Choose an option from the following: Name, Kind, Date Modified, Date Cleated, Size, Tags. 

Once you’ve created a grid you can modify its spacing in Show View Options by right clicking on your desktop. By right-clicking the desktop and selecting Sort By, you can also choose Snap to Grid to automatically have files snap to a grid.  

Automated Desktop Cleanups

Get a pack of apps for decluttering and organizing desktop files. You define the rules, Setapp apps clear away the mess.

Try free

There’s an easier way, though. You can use desktop organization tools like Declutter and Spotless to schedule cleanups. All you have to do is specify the rules for sorting and let the apps work on their own. The fun part is present as well — with Declutter, you can color code your folders and add fancy icons.

How to hide desktop icons on Mac

Hiding desktop icons is the quickest way to remove clutter. You can choose to hide selected icons or if you want to go full minimalism, hide all icons.

You can hide desktop device icons using the Finder Preferences.

  1. Click on your desktop and select Preferences from the Finder menu.
  2. In the General tab, untick the boxes next to Hard disks, External disks, CDs, DVDs, and iPods, and Connected servers.
How to hide desktop icons on Mac

How to delete and remove desktop items

There’s bound to be files on your desktop that you no longer need so before you do any organizing these will need to be cleaned up. You can delete anything you don’t need manually by dragging it to the Trash but be warned: if your desktop is particularly cluttered this may prove a time-consuming task.

Plus, the way in which Mac works means that simply moving files to the Trash doesn’t guarantee full deletion. Even when you empty the Trash, leftover parts and pieces of files are left behind deep in your system serving no purpose other than to hog hard drive space.

A better solution is to use a tool like CleanMyMac X, which scans your system for junk files and removes every trace of a file at the click of a button. You can get rid of anything you don’t need in a matter of minutes, which is a lot more appealing than digging around the desktop for hours on end.

For quickness, CleanMyMac X’s Smart Cleanup feature is the best one to use.

  1. Download and launch CleanMyMac X.
  2. Click Scan on the welcome screen.
  3. When the scan is complete, review the summary.
  4. Click Run to complete the cleanup.  
CleanMyMac X - Smart Scan complete

How to change the size of desktop icons on Mac

By now, your desktop should be looking more manageable. The final thing you can do to improve it is to adjust the size of the icons — make them larger or smaller depending on your preference.

  1. Right click on a black space on your desktop.
  2. Click Show View Options.
  3. Use the slider to adjust the icon size.

Once you’ve worked through these tips your desktop should resemble the good old productive days when you could easily find what you needed. Hide any icons you don’t regularly use, organize files into folders and place them in grids, and adjust the size of icons for the cherry on the cake.

How to remove all icons from Mac desktop

If you’re sick of the sight of desktop icons completely, you can hide them all by using a Terminal command.

1. Launch the Terminal.

2. In Terminal window type in the following command and press Enter:

defaults write CreateDesktop -bool false

killall Finder

To bring back your icons, type in the following command and press Enter:

defaults write CreateDesktop true

killall Finder

But always, always start with a cleanup.

Running CleanMyMac X to rid the desktop of junk before you begin sorting files and folders will make your task a whole lot easier.

CleanMyMac X is Mac’s biggest and best utility tool yet, designed to help you quickly remove junk files from your system for improved performance and easier organization. Download the app today.  

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.