If you work on the computer throughout the day, you no doubt experience the problem of a cluttered desktop—with several opened Finder and browser windows, applications, and saved files. Some computer users can tolerate the clutter better than others.
But there are times when we need to clear the desktop to focus on a particular task, take clean screenshots, watch DVD movies, or make presentations. While keyboard shortcuts can be very useful for hiding opened windows or deleting files, there are several small applications that can clean your Mac desktop more efficiently. Let’s check them out.
If you need to hide and un-hide applications on your desktop, Hide All consists of one small window that can minimize all your open applications with one simple click, and bring them back with another click.
Unfortunately, however, Hide All doesn’t have support for a keyboard shortcut, or an icon in the menu bar. So this app would be most useful if you’re hiding and un-hiding applications on a regular basis throughout the day whereby you would keep the little window open.
Sometimes when you’re working at a computer, you might need to temporarily hide selected files or folders on the desktop, and later quickly retrieve them without opening several folders to do so. This is where GoodbyeHello comes in.
This app allows you to simply drop selected files or folders in the application’s window, or its icon in the dock where they will be tucked away until you need them.
You use the application’s File menu commands to make the selected files or folders visible again, where they were last saved. There are several other apps and methods that accomplish what GoodbyeHello does, but this one is free and easy to use.
If you are a computer user who perpetually saves items on your desktop and rarely takes the time clean it up, you might try using the free Mac store app, Clean, to do the housekeeping for you.
Each day or week Clean will scoop up all the files on your desktop and put them in a folder, and then move them to a place you specify. Each saved folder of items will be labeled with the date and can be grouped by day or month—or not at all. You can also hit the “Clean now” button to do the job manually.
Clean is also free and works well for those with small computer housekeeping needs, but a paid application called Hazel, which is what I use, accomplishes this sort of thing ten times better.
Desktoday also clears your desktop files and puts them into a designated folder, but unlike Clean, Desktoday is accessed from your menu bar where you manually click to do the cleaning.
You can also designate particular files or icons on your desktop that you never want put into a folder.
By the way, you might not know that a new feature in Mac OS X Lion also features a way to right- or control-click on selected Finder items and put those items into a folder.
HideAllApps and Spirited Away
If you find your desktop constantly cluttered with application windows, HideAllApps will at specified time intervals hide all of your background applications. In the pop-up menu and application’s icon, you can check which applications you want exempt from hiding.
Spirited Away does the same thing, but you can access it from the menu bar.
The only problem with these two applications is that you have to recheck which applications you don’t want hidden each time you reboot your Mac.
Another way to hide applications is to create automated workflows, which will automatically hide opened windows and applications when a designated item is launched. So for example, you could create a workflow that hides all background applications when you launch the DVD Player.
If you don’t know how to use Automator, check out this article. This workflow consists of three actions – two for selecting the Finder item you want launched, and an action for hiding background applications. You save the workflow as an application, and park it in your Dock for when you need it.
There several other utility solutions for cleaning up your Mac. Let us know your personal favorites. Also check out 5 Great Tips and Tools for a Clean and Minimalist Mac Desktop for other ideas.