Whether you have a sudden desire for privacy, want to conceal confidential information, or just like to feel organized, sometimes you need to clear your Mac’s desktop in a hurry. Here are some handy methods.
Clicking the minimize button in the center top left corner of an open window or document makes it vanish from the desktop and hide in the Dock. You can do the same thing by typing Command-M. Either way, click the window’s icon in the Dock to return it to full view.
Need to conceal an entire application? You can hide most Mac apps in their entirety, no matter how many individual windows or documents are open, by typing Command-H. The windows don’t move to the Dock, but they reappear when you click on the application’s icon in the Dock. All Apple apps behave this way, though some third-party programs use different commands. (Adobe Photoshop, for example, uses Command-Control-H.) You can find an application’s Hide command in the application menu.
Want to quickly make iTunes, iChat, Safari, and your mahjong game disappear while leaving that budget spreadsheet open? Hide every open program except the one that’s currently selected (in this case, make sure it’s the spreadsheet app) by typing Command-Option-H.
To hide everything instantly, use the Desktop command that’s built into Exposé in Mac OS X. The default assignment is the F11 key, but you can reassign it by choosing System Preferences from the Apple menu and clicking the Dashboard & Exposé tab. Press the same key again to make everything reappear.