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How to Quickly Show Your Desktop on Mac

MacBook user using shortcut to show the desktop on Mac
guteksk7/Shutterstock

If you store work files on your desktop, you might be minimizing windows to view the desktop. Or you might want to view the desktop to quickly hide an app window. Here’s how to quickly show your desktop on Mac.

Use a Keyboard or Mouse Shortcut

The quickest way to view the desktop (without setting up a new feature) is to use a keyboard shortcut. There are, in fact, several ways that you can do this:

  • Command+F3: Use the Command+F3 (Mission Control) keyboard shortcut to quickly view the desktop. This shortcut works on most modern Macs.
  • Fn+F11: If you have an older Mac, or if you’re using a keyboard that doesn’t have the media keys, you can use the F11 or the Fn+F11 keyboard combination to reveal the desktop.

You can also create your own shortcut (using the keyboard or the mouse) to reveal the desktop. To do this, click the “Apple” logo found in the top-left corner of the screen and then select the “System Preferences” option.

Click on System Preferences button from Apple menu in menu bar

Here, click the “Mission Control” option.

Click on Mission Control from System Preferences

Now, you’ll see two drop-down menus next to the “Show Desktop” option. From the one on the left, you can assign a keyboard shortcut, and from the second, you can choose a mouse shortcut.

Click dropdown next to Show Desktop

You can choose from the function keys, and the Shift, Command, Option, and Control keys. Take a look at a key that you don’t use often. For us, choosing the Right Option key made sense because we rarely use it.

Change Keyboard shortcut for Show Desktop feature

If you’re using a mouse with extra buttons, you can also assign it to show the desktop.

Assign a Hot Corner

You might not know this, but there’s a hidden feature in your Mac called Hot Corners. It basically lets you perform actions simply by wedging the cursor at one of the four corners of the screen.

RELATED: How to Create Time-Saving "Hot Corner" Shortcuts on Your Mac

For example, you can open the Notification Center, Mission Control, and yes, show the desktop by moving the cursor to one of the edges of the screen.

You’ll find this feature by going to System Preferences > Mission Control. Here, click the “Hot Corners” button found in the bottom-left corner of the screen.

Click Hot Corners

Now, click the drop-down next to one of the edges (we went with the top-left corner) and choose the “Desktop” option. Then click the “OK” button to save the changes.

Choose Desktop from Hot Corners

Going forward, when you move your cursor to the top-left corner of the screen, your Mac will instantly move the windows away and show the desktop. To hide it, jam the cursor to the same edge once more.

Use the Trackpad Gesture

If you’re using a MacBook with a trackpad (or if you’re using a Magic Trackpad), you can quickly show the desktop using a simple gesture.

RELATED: How to Use Your Macbook's Trackpad Gestures

Just spread your thumb away from three fingers on the trackpad to reveal the desktop. Pinch in with your thumb and three fingers to hide the desktop.

Trackpad gesture for showing desktop on Mac
Apple

The gesture is enabled by default on all Macs, but if it’s not working for you, go to System Preferences > Trackpad > More Gestures and here, make sure that the “Show Desktop” option is checked.

Make Sure Show Desktop trackpad gesture is enabled


Next step? Learn how the multiple desktops feature can help increase your productivity on your Mac.

RELATED: Mission Control 101: How to Use Multiple Desktops on a Mac

Khamosh Pathak Khamosh Pathak
Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has seven years of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
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