How to Remove Pictures from Desktop without Deleting Mac

As someone who owns a Mac, you must have faced the dilemma of removing pictures from your desktop without actually deleting them. This could happen because you have a habit of saving a lot of files and pictures on your desktop, and it starts to look cluttered over time. However, you do not want to delete them because they are important to you, and you still want to access them from time to time. But, having all these files on your desktop not only takes up space but also hampers your productivity, leading to frustration, especially when you can’t find what you need quickly.

This article outlines some methods to remove pictures from your desktop without deleting them.

Video Tutorial:

What’s Needed

Before we get started with the methods, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Firstly, it would be best if you had free space on your hard drive to move the photos. Secondly, it would be best if you had organized the pictures before moving them to another place. Lastly, you should keep in mind to create a backup of your files, just in case something goes wrong.

What requires your focus?

When removing pictures from your desktop, you must concentrate on the following:

1. Organizing your pictures
2. Select a suitable location to store your pictures
3. Creating a backup
4. Free space on your hard drive for moving files.

Method 1: Using the Hide Desktop Icons Feature

This method is the easiest and quickest way to hide your desktop icons. The Hide Desktop Icons feature comes built-in with the macOS. This method only hides the picture from the desktop; the picture remains unchanged within the same folder.

Steps to use the Hide Desktop Icons Feature:

1. Click anywhere on the desktop to ensure your Mac is in the Finder.

2. In the Menu Bar, click on "Finder," followed by clicking on "Preferences".

3. Select the General Tab, and navigate to the "Show these items on the desktop," and uncheck the box next to "Hard Disks."

4. Alternatively, you can remove all the items from the desktop and add your files to a separate folder in the Documents folder.


– Quick and easy to use.
– Built-in feature within macOS.
– Only hides the picture, not delete it.


– Does not remove the picture from the desktop.
– Lack of organization in the Documents folder.

Method 2: Creating a New Folder and Moving Pictures

If the Hide Desktop Icons feature doesn’t work for you, you can create a new folder in another location and move your desktop pictures there. This folder acts as a storage unit, helping you relieve the desktop of clutter, making it neat and organized, and reducing the chance of accidental deletion.

Steps to creating a new folder:

1. Navigate to the Finder Menu in the Dock.

2. From the Finder, select a location to store your new folder.

3. Click on the "File" menu, followed by "New Folder" or use "Shift + Command + N."

4. Name your new folder and select a suitable icon.

5. Open the Desktop folder, select the pictures you want to move, and click on "Edit."

6. From the Edit menu, select "Cut" or use "Command + X."

7. Navigate to the new folder, select it, and then click on "Edit."

8. From the Edit menu, select "Paste" or use "Command + V."


– Organizes your pictures into a separate folder.
– Reduces clutter on your desktop.
– Reduces the chance of accidental deletion.


– Takes time to move each picture individually.
– It could lead to duplicates on your Mac.

Method 3: Using the Stacks feature

If you have macOS Mojave or later, the Stacks feature is an excellent way to keep your desktop clean and organized. It organizes the desktop by automatically grouping images and folders based on type, date, tag, or other characteristics.

Steps to use the Stacks feature:

1. Click anywhere on the desktop to ensure your Mac is in the Finder.

2. Click on the desktop, and select "Use Stacks" from the "View" menu.

3. Set the Stacks parameters by right-clicking or clicking the gear icon in the Finder Menu.

4. Set your parameters, and the Stacks will automatically organize your desktop.


– Automatically organizes your pictures by type, date, or tag.
– Saves you time and effort.


– Only available after macOS Mojave or later.
– Files may still be on the desktop, but hidden through the stacks feature.

Why Can’t I Remove Pictures from My Desktop?

1. Lack of Organization: Having a disorganized desktop may make it challenging to navigate through all the files. Therefore, you may find it challenging to remove pictures from your desktop.

Fix: Start organizing your files in folders and deleting those you no longer need.

2. Incomplete Permissions: Incomplete permissions could be another reason why you cannot remove files from your desktop. Your Mac may not have given you the necessary permissions required to move or delete some files.

Fix: Go to "Finder" and click on "Preferences." Select the "Advanced" tab and check the "Show all filename extensions" box.

3. The Trash Bin: Your Mac may not allow you to remove files because they are still within the Trash Bin. You must first empty the Trash Bin before you can remove files effectively.

Fix: Go to the Trash Bin, select the files you want to delete, and click the "Empty" button.

Implications and Recommendations

Disorganized desktop clutter can occupy numerous valuable spaces on your Mac, leading to an unproductive time working on your device. It may lead to frustration, annoyance, and even loss of data when you can accidentally delete your critical files. Therefore, it is always good practice to keep your Mac desktop clean, organized and free of clutter.


Q1. What happens when I delete pictures from the desktop?

A1. When you delete images from your desktop, the pictures move to the Trash Bin. You must manually empty the Trash Bin for the files to be permanently deleted.

Q2. Can I recover files after I have deleted them?

A2. Yes, you can recover files after you have deleted them only if the Trash Bin has not been emptied. Once you empty the Trash Bin, the files are permanently deleted from your Mac.

Q3. How can I create Folders on my desktop?

A3. To create a new folder on your desktop, right-click on your desktop, select "New Folder," or use "Shift + Command + N." Finally, give your folder a name, and you are all set.

Q4. How can I find a picture I misplaced on my Mac?

A4. Open Finder on your Mac, press "Command + F," type the name of the image, and press enter. If the file is on your Mac, it should appear in the results.

Q5. How can I hide pictures from my desktop without deleting them?

A5. You can use the Hide Desktop Icons feature, which comes built-in with the macOS. In the Finder Menu, click on "Preferences" and select the "General" tab. From the options, uncheck the box next to "Hard Disks," and your icons should be hidden.

In Conclusion

Following the above methods to remove pictures from your Mac’s desktop without deleting them can save you the precious time to do other things that matter to you. It is imperative to keep your desktop organized to avoid clutter that can reduce your productivity. The recommendations are to maintain good Mac habits like organizing files, backing up your files, and freeing up space for your Mac.