There may be rare occasions in which you want to Quit the Finder completely–maybe to clean your cluttered desktop for a screenshot, or to close a bunch of Finder windows at once. But by default, the Finder doesn’t have a Quit option.

This is generally a good thing, since quitting the Finder can have some unintended or unwanted side effects. For example, all the icons on your desktop will disappear. No, they won’t vanish permanently, since as soon as you restart the Finder, everything comes back, but it may give the uninitiated a nasty scare at first.

But, if you know what you’re doing, you can Quit the finder using a few Terminal commands. After running these commands, you’ll have the ability to not only quit Finder from the app switcher, but a “Quit” option will be placed on the Finder menu as well.

To add this option to your Mac, you will need to first open up the Terminal, which can be found in the Applications > Utilities folder.

With the Terminal open, you want to input the following command and hit “Enter”. You don’t need to type it in; you can simply copy and paste it if you prefer. If you do type it, make sure everything matches exactly, including anything upper or lowercase.

defaults write QuitMenuItem -bool true

Then you will need to restart the Finder by inputting the following command and hitting “Enter”.

killall Finder

In the Terminal it will look like this.

You will now be able to quit the Finder just as if it were any other application. To reverse this action, enter the following command (note, the end of the command says “false” instead of “true”) and hit “Enter”.

defaults write QuitMenuItem -bool false

Follow this up with the “killall” command and hit “Enter”.

killall Finder

This will return your system to its previous form. You will no longer be able to quit the Finder and the option will disappear from the Finder menu.

Remember, quitting the Finder will cause anything on your desktop to vanish and you will need to restart the Finder to make them come back. That said, there are probably any number of reasons you might want this. For example, wanting to have a clean desktop for screenshot or even privacy purposes, such as if you’re doing a presentation and don’t want everyone seeing what you have on you computer.

In any event, it’s a harmless and occasionally useful hack.

Profile Photo for Matt Klein Matt Klein
Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He's covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He's even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8.
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