Do you store things on the desktop that you need to get to on a regular basis?

Many people think the best way to get to the desktop is to close all open windows.

If you want to go outside, do you knock down the walls of your house?

So… why close Mail, Calendar and Safari if you’re going to use them in the future.

If closing windows works for you or makes you happy… then stick with it, but there are faster, smarter and, dare I say, happier ways to get to the desktop.

Take Me To The Desktop

Depending on the age of your Mac and the version of OS X that you’re running, some of these shortcuts may not work, but you’ll find at least one that gets you to the desktop.

Trackpad Shortcut – If you use a Trackpad, a simple swipe gesture reveals the desktop. On the Trackpad, spread your thumb and three fingers. Reverse the gesture to hide the desktop.

Trackpad Gesture to Show Desktop

This gesture is turned on by default. If not, go to System Preferences>Trackpad and on the More Gestures tab, make sure Show Desktop is checked. This area includes a small movie that shows you how to perform the gesture.

Fn and F11 – On the Macbook, Pro, Air and on the Wireless Keyboard, holding down the Fn button and pressing F11 will reveal the desktop. Repeating the shortcut hides the desktop.

Mac OSX Command to Show Desktop - Fn + F11

Command + Mission Control – On Mac keyboards that have a Mission Control key, you can get to the desktop by holding down the Command Key and pressing the Mission Control key.

Mac OSX Command to Show Desktop - Command + Mission Control

You’ll find the Mission Control icon on the 4th key over from the top left of the keyboard.

Use The Finder – Although not an immediately obvious choice, this is one of the best ways to get to the desktop, because it also lets you decide how to view and sort files when you get there.

Mac OS X Show Desktop - Go to Finder

Set Your Own Shortcut Key – It’s possible to set up a custom keystroke that takes you direct to the desktop. This is extremely useful if you use an Apple wired Extended Keyboard as it has quite a few blank buttons. Proceed as follows:

  • Go to the back Apple in the top left-hand corner and select System Preferences.
  • Choose Keyboard.


  • Click on the Shortcuts tab.
  • Locate the Show Desktop command. It’s in the Mission Control section.
  • Highlight Show Desktop.
  • Double-click the area with the current keystroke shortcut.

Mac OSX System Preferences - Program Keyboard Shortcut

  • Hit the keystroke you wish to use. It will show as soon as it’s accepted.
  • If you get a hazard symbol, it means that the keystroke you chose is already in use. Choose a different one.
  • When you’re finished, close System Preferences.
  • Test the new keystroke shortcut.

That’s it. If you can think of other ways to get to the desktop, please leave a comment.

Have a fun desktop filled weekend.

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