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clean mac desktopSimplicity is a rising movement. People are trying to get rid of the superfluous clutter that we often dub an interface. Features are no longer to be measured in the number of buttons on your screen.

Simplicity is also functionality. Keeping a clean desk allows you to get things done. Admit it, you don’t really like that mess, you just don’t feel like cleaning it up.

In this article, we’ll be showing you how to create a clean work (and play) environment – a clean Mac desktop that doesn’t need tending to but allows you to focus on what’s important. Here are five simple steps towards a bare and ultimately functional Mac.

1. Hide Your Desktop Icons with Camouflage

The most important step towards a clean and functional work interface is hiding your desktop icons. Not cleaning them up. Hiding them. I know how rash this may sound to some of you. Killing your desktop is one of the hardest steps to take, but you’ll be glad to have done it. In the end, you’ll wonder why people bother with desktops anymore.

clean mac desktop

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Mac OS X does not, by default, allow you to hide your dekstop icons. Freeware application Camouflage will take care of the job. Even more so. By double-clicking your (empty) wallpaper, your Desktop (folder) will pop up in Finder. Set the folder to list view, and end up with a clean Mac desktop, and faster and better organized access to your files.

Jackson previously mentioned 8 Apps Which Will Definitely Spice Up Your Desktop [Mac Only] 8 Apps Which Will Definitely Spice Up Your Desktop [Mac Only] Read More Camouflage, along with other tools to help spice up your desktop. Check it out.

2. Hide The Dock

Next, we’ll take care of the Dock. Hiding it will declutter your desktop even further and, more importantly, free up space. Unless you’ve got three monitors, the extra space won’t hurt.

clean mac desktop

Right click (or Control+click) on the dock’s separator. A menu will pop up. Apart from changing the Dock’s position, toggling Magnification, you can use it to turn on Hiding (which can also be done by pressing Control+Option+D). In the future, if you want to access your Dock, simply touch your mouse to the side of the screen where it lies hidden.

3. Dim Apple’s Menu Bar with Menu Eclipse

Although people might often compare Apple’s menu bar to the task bar in Windows, it is not the same. The menu bar perfectly integrates with each application’s interface. Hiding is would be like cutting off part of every application – simply to gain 22 pixels worth of display space (I counted). Instead of hiding the Menu Bar, you can dim it. This will keep it from stealing focus from other applications, and from being burned into your display permanently.

organize mac desktop

Although there are a number of freeware alternatives, I highly recommend Menu Eclipse. This application allows you to configure the dim-rate of your menu bar (or black it out entirely). By default, the menu bar jumps back into focus when hovering over it with your mouse. If you’re willing to compromise visibility, this can be turned off as well.

4. Configure Apple’s Expose

Expose is the collective term for a number of window-accessibility tools. With the flick of a mouse, they will create order out of the chaos. For instance, by showing you all the open applications or windows side by side, or by launching the Dashboard with a shortcut. Learn more about Expose in a previously published article Become A Multitasking Master With These 6 Expose Tips Become A Multitasking Master With These 6 Exposé Tips [Mac] Become A Multitasking Master With These 6 Exposé Tips [Mac] Read More .

organize mac desktop

We’re most interested in the Active Screen Corners (activate by dragging your mouse in a corner of the screen) and keyboard shortcuts. Both of these can be configured via Apple Menu -> System Preferences… -> Expose and Spaces -> Exposé.

5. Automatically Hide Idle Applications with Spirited Away

mac desktop organizationThis last application is a real novelty. It will monitor all open applications, and hide them when they’ve been idle for too long. It’s as if they were spirited away! Jackson previously touched on it in his article 6 Apps To Help You Focus & Be Productive 6 Apps To Help You Focus & Be Productive [Mac] 6 Apps To Help You Focus & Be Productive [Mac] Read More .

By default, the application is set to hide everything that hasn’t been touched for sixty seconds. This ensures that only the active program is visible on your screen. But if you want, you can increase that time, or whitelist applications on the spot.

Tip: use Command+Option+H to toggle Spirited Away on or off.

Do you have any other Mac tips to keep a clean and simplistic Mac desktop? Know of any other interesting applications? Let us and your fellow reader know in the comments section below!

  1. Arkieflyer
    August 5, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    "Modern screens don't suffer from images burning into them, only the old CRT ones." I used to think the same thing. However, if you'll leave your LCD monitor on for a day or two, while keeping the same Desktop image on there, then change it to one with a single, pastel color (white?), you should be able to see the faint image of the previous picture. While this is easily remedied by rotating the image often (once a day is usually enough) with the Desktop System Pref, it really is important if you do much graphics work or don't use screen dimming/sleeping. ;-)

  2. Modernape
    July 26, 2010 at 3:21 am

    Modern screens don't suffer from images burning into them, only the old CRT ones.

  3. Anonymous
    July 26, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Modern screens don't suffer from images burning into them, only the old CRT ones.

  4. Danniii
    June 24, 2010 at 10:04 am

    I don't like Camouflage ,
    it was active for a few minutes then now I cannot change any settings or uninstall it because it say
    The item “Camouflage” can’t be moved to the Trash because it’s open.
    yet I cannot force quite it, I do not recommend this program is installed

  5. Danniii
    June 24, 2010 at 8:04 am

    I don't like Camouflage ,
    it was active for a few minutes then now I cannot change any settings or uninstall it because it say
    The item “Camouflage” can’t be moved to the Trash because it’s open.
    yet I cannot force quite it, I do not recommend this program is installed

  6. Jessejay
    June 4, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Very good ! Thanx. I shall try that.

  7. BenGleck
    June 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    I keep an unnamed folder (using a space character) with a desktop icon on it on my desktop. Any name (such as "de-clutter") or icon (like none at all) could be used. When desktop clutter becomes too much I stash the icons there.

    Beats installing another memory-robbing, potentially crash-inducing background application to do the job. Experience has taught me to keep those things to a minimum, and to pick and choose the ones I do use judiciously.

    And it doesn't hide my drive icons in the process.

  8. Anonymous
    June 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I keep an unnamed folder (using a space character) with a desktop icon on it on my desktop. Any name (such as "de-clutter") or icon (like none at all) could be used. When desktop clutter becomes too much I stash the icons there.

    Beats installing another memory-robbing, potentially crash-inducing background application to do the job. Experience has taught me to keep those things to a minimum, and to pick and choose the ones I do use judiciously.

    And it doesn't hide my drive icons in the process.

  9. Joey
    June 3, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Hiding the dock is COMMAND+Option+D...

    • Terri
      June 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm

      OK i hid it--but how do I make it reappear??

      • Simon Slangen
        June 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm

        To make it reappear temporarily, simply touch your mouse to the side of the screen where your dock was before. Or, if you want to keep it there, hit COMMAND+Option+D again.

  10. Kim
    May 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    ive never worried about or rather thought about screen burning with the menu bar before... the second that i acknowledged that i clicked on the menu eclipse click right away.

  11. Nat Jay
    May 29, 2010 at 6:05 am

    Great tips! I've been hiding the dock on my 5-year-old iBook machine, and it gives the screen a better, brighter look.

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