Many Mac users store files on their desktops. Apple even lets you sync your Desktop folder via iCloud. The upcoming macOS Mojave release helps cut through the clutter with “Desktop Stacks,” a feature that automatically organizes the files on your desktop.

How to Enable Desktop Stacks on macOS Mojave

Desktop Stacks aren’t enabled by default on macOS Mojave. You can enable them from the desktop’s context menu. To open it, either Ctrl+click or right-click on your desktop. If you’re using a MacBook with a touchpad, perform a two-finger click.

When the menu appears, point to the “Group Stacks By” menu, and then select your preferred categorization scheme. Select “Kind” to group files by type—for example, this will give you separate stacks for documents, images, screenshots, and videos. Select “Date Last Opened,” “Date Added,” “Date Modified,” or “Date Created” to group files by a time associated with the file. To organize your files into custom stacks, select “Tags.” You can then assign tags to your files.

If you’re not sure which option to choose, we recommend selecting Kind. You can always go back to this menu and change the Stacks later.

Your files immediately will be sorted into different “Stacks” on your desktop.

Click a stack to see the files inside it. When you add a new file to the desktop, your Mac automatically places it in the correct stack, keeping your desktop clear and making it easy to find recent files. You can always rearrange these stacks by selecting a different grouping option in the context menu.

To stop using Stacks, select Group Stacks By > None. Files will appear on the desktop normally.

The macOS dock still supports stacked folders, too. These are separate from desktop stacks.

RELATED: How to Create, Use, and Configure Stacked Dock Folders in OS X

How to Change Stacks Sorting on macOS Mojave

You can change how Stacks are sorted, if you like. After enabling stacks, open the desktop context menu once again, point to the “Sort Stacks By” menu, and then choose a sorting scheme. You can select either “Name,” “Kind,” “Date Last Opened,” “Date Added,” “Date Modified,” “Date Created,” “Size,” or “Tags.”

By default, Stacks are sorted by “Date Added,” which means that the files you most recently added to your desktop appear at the top of each stack.

How to Assign Tags to Files

Tags are a powerful way to group stacks. Tags let you set up a custom sorting system where you group related files together. For example, you could tag files belonging to a specific project with a special tag, group stacks by tag, and see all the project’s files in a single stack.

To assign tags to an individual file, Ctrl+click, right-click, or two-finger click the file to open its context menu. Select multiple files before opening the context menu to assign the same tags to multiple files at once.

In the menu, select one of the options in the Tags section. You can quickly add a colored tag like “Red” by clicking one of the colors.

To assign custom tags, click the “Tags” option underneath the colored circles. You can type custom tags into this box or click existing tags to quickly add them.

You can assign multiple tags by separating them with a comma. For example, to assign both “work” and “project” tags to a file, type “work, project” into the box, and then press Enter.

To view stacks grouped by tag, select Group Stacks By > Tags in the desktop context menu. Untagged files will appear together in a “No Tags” stack.

You can assign tags to files anywhere on your system via the Finder, too. Tags can help sort your files and make them easier to find with Spotlight search. Of course, only tagged files located on your desktop will appear in desktop stacks.

RELATED: How to Make Mac Finder Tags Work for You

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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