If you’re a fan of working from the desktop on your Mac, you might enjoy seeing icons for hard disks, removable drives, optical media, and network shares directly on the desktop itself. They can be handy shortcuts. Here’s how to enable them.

To see drive icons on your desktop, we’ll need to make a change in Finder’s preferences. Focus on Finder by clicking its icon in your dock.

In the menu bar at the top of the screen, click “Finder” and select “Preferences” from the menu, or you can press Command+Comma on your keyboard.

Click "Finder" in the menu bar then select "Preferences."

When Finder Preferences opens, click the “General” tab and locate the “Show these items on the desktop” section. Here’s what these options mean:

  • Hard disks: Storage devices installed in your Mac, such as hard drives and SSDs.
  • External disks: Removable storage devices, including USB flash drives.
  • CDs, DVDs, and iPods: Optical media inserted into a drive (if your Mac has one) and iPods that are connected to your Mac.
  • Connected servers: Network shares or drives that your Mac is currently connected to.

Place check marks beside each item category that you’d like to see on your desktop.

In Finder Preferences, click "General." Then place check marks beside the items you'd like to see on your desktop.

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Next, close Finder Preferences. If you have any of these devices connected to your computers, you should already see icons for them on your desktop. If not, you can test them out by plugging in a USB drive, connecting to a network drive, or inserting a CD.

An example of drives visible on the Mac desktop.

If you change your mind and want to clean up your desktop, just open Finder Preferences again (remember Command+Comma) and uncheck any drives that you no longer want to see. Remember that you can still access the drives in the Finder sidebar even if they aren’t visible on the desktop.

Have fun configuring your Mac!

RELATED: How to Organize Your Mac's Desktop Icons

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Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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