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Table of Contents

Where’s My Desktop?

Say you’ve booted up your Mac and noticed the menu bar at the top of the screen. You might see a window (or a bunch of them) on the screen below the menu bar, and you probably see the Dock on the bottom or side of the screen. But, what about the space “behind” all that? That space is called the Desktop .

① 	No windows are open, making it easy to see the custom pattern that’s been applied to the Desktop. A file has been saved on the Desktop; you can see its icon near the upper right.

① No windows are open, making it easy to see the custom pattern that’s been applied to the Desktop. A file has been saved on the Desktop; you can see its icon near the upper right.

The Desktop is more than a visual backdrop. It’s also a normal folder, found in your home folder, where you can store files and folders. You can see these files and folders both within a Finder window and on the Desktop.

Viewing the Desktop Folder

  1. Make sure the Finder is active. (If you aren’t sure how to do this, read Finding the Finder and Opening a Window.)
  2. Choose Go > Desktop .
② 	In the Finder, choose Go > Desktop.

② In the Finder, choose Go > Desktop.

A Finder window opens, showing the Desktop folder .

③ 	The Desktop folder opens in a window.

③ The Desktop folder opens in a window.

Arranging Desktop Icons

  1. Click the Desktop backdrop. (Do not click a Finder window showing the Desktop—you want to click the colored backdrop.)
  2. Choose View > Show View Options.
  3. Make your changes in the Desktop panel .
    ④ 	If you play with the options in the Desktop’s View Options panel, you can customize the way icons display on the Desktop backdrop.

    ④ If you play with the options in the Desktop’s View Options panel, you can customize the way icons display on the Desktop backdrop.

    Changes apply immediately so you can experiment with different settings without closing the panel.

  4. When you finish, click the close button at the upper left.

Customizations that you make in the Desktop panel apply only to the Desktop backdrop. They do not apply to a Finder window that is showing the Desktop folder.

Saving a File on the Desktop

Imagine that you are working in a Save dialog and you want to save the file on the Desktop. But, you can’t see a convenient way to switch the Save location to the Desktop.

A fast way to switch nearly any Save dialog so that it will save to the Desktop is to press Command-D .

⑤ 	If I click Save, the September Budget file will be stored in the Desktop folder. I’ll be able to see its icon _both_ on the Desktop backdrop and in the Desktop folder in a Finder window.

⑤ If I click Save, the September Budget file will be stored in the Desktop folder. I’ll be able to see its icon both on the Desktop backdrop and in the Desktop folder in a Finder window.

Note: To move a file off the Desktop backdrop (and thus out of the Desktop folder), drag it from the Desktop and drop it in a Finder window that’s showing the destination folder.

Can I Put All My Files on the Desktop?

No. Beyond that fact that storing a ton of stuff on your Desktop is like storing everything you’ve ever written or received in the mail on your dining room table, in some versions of OS X, you may experience sluggish overall performance with an excess of icons on the Desktop.

That said, it’s fine to keep a few active files on the Desktop. I typically have a dozen or so.

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“Arrange items on your Desktop by most recently saved by choosing View > Sort By > Date Modified when in the Finder.”

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