Read on for six ways to whip your messy Mac desktop into shape, starting with…
1. Arrange your icons automatically
Want to see your desktop icons arranged in nice, straight columns, and in some kind of logical order?
First, here’s the secret weapon you’ll need to use: the View Options tool in the Mac OS X “Finder.”
Just right-click your desktop, then select Show View Options. (If you’re fond of keyboard shortcuts, you can also hit Command-J after clicking the desktop.)
Next, click the drop-down menu that’s labeled “Sort by” and pick an option, from Name and Size to Date Created and Date Last Opened.
Note that no matter which automatic sorting option you choose, your Mac will group your icons by type—meaning internal hard drives come first, then shared and external drives, and finally your folders and files.
Still, the ability to sort desktop files and folders by, say, Date Modified or Date Created could be a powerful feature for anyone who’s sifting through dozens of photos, text files, or other documents.
2. Snap ‘em to a grid
Prefer to sort your desktop items yourself, but still want everything all nice and neat?
Go back to the “Sory by” drop-down menu and select “Snap to grid,” then right-click the desktop itself and select “Clean Up.”
You can also right-click a specific item and select “Clean Up Selection,” or rearrange your entire desktop one time only by right-clicking and selecting “Clean Up By.”
Last but not least, you can expand or shrink the amount of space between your icons by sliding the “Grid spacing” control back and forth.
3. Resize the icons
Ever wish your desktop icons were bigger, or smaller?
Just open the View Options panel, grab the little slider that’s marked “Icon Size,” and drag it back and forth until you’re happy.
4. Change the font size of the text labels
Done expanding or shrinking your icons? Now you can resize the text labels to match. Click the drop-down menu marked “Text size” and select a point size from 10 to 16.
5. Add more details to icon labels
OK, so your icons and their labels are just the right size. If you like, though, you can also make those icon labels a bit more detailed.
Check the “Show item info” box to see how many items are in a folder, the dimensions of an image, how much total and free storage space a drive contains, and other salient details.
6. Move the label text to the right side
Wish that the text labels for your desktop icons could go somewhere else besides beneath them?
To move them all over to the right, just select “Right” in the “Label position” section. Sorry—there’s no “left” or “above” option.