You know those last few weeks of a project where it seems like every ball you own is up in the air? Your desktop looks like bomb went off: stuff like “website comp (with hero)-20160414-final-2.1 copy.psd” and “DO NOT DELETE YET” scattered all over the place. You’re busy as hell.
And then you realize that you need to take product screenshots. Or do a screencast.
While doing screenshots for my upcoming book, I solved this problem by writing a simple shell script. It updates an undocumented Finder preference that controls whether the desktop is created or not. Without the desktop, all of your icons disappear (don’t worry, the files are still there!)
finder_icons off in your Terminal lets you pretend that you’re working in complete zen and take the shots you need. Doing
finder_icons on quickly brings you back to reality and lets you create an even bigger mess.
Updated April 29th, 2016: Dr. Drang points out that this technique also works well for screen sharing. I try to avoid the use of
killall when dealing with the Finder because you never know when it’s in the middle of a file operation (such as copying a file or deleting a folder.) Using the AppleScript
quit command lets the Finder determine when it’s safe to shut down.
Updated October 16th, 2018: For those of you who prefer not to use a script, download the FreeMyDesktop app. This simple app modifies the preferences and kills the Finder from a button in the menubar. Handy!