Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Show only external hard drives on the desktop Desktop
I like to have my Mac desktop clear of any files other than the ones I am working on and haven't placed in folders yet. I also use a separate partition for a swap file. Finally, I often attach an external FireWire drive, which, when present, I would like to have appear on my desktop. Unfortunately, the Finder's "Show these Items on the desktop – Hard Disks" selection gives you all of the disks or none of them.

SetFile can be used, if you have the Developer Tools installed, to hide selected drives. A previous hint from discussed using SetFile to hide the swap partition, but it works on the startup disk as well. In this case, one types:
 % SetFile -a V /Volumes/Swap
% SetFile -a V /
This makes the swap volume and the root volume invisible, but still shows mounted external hard drives when they are present.

In dialog boxes, with Finder key commands, and the like, the computer operates normally and all partitions are visible, but I don't have my desk cluttered with drives that I know are there already. And when I have my backup drive installed, it shows up on my desktop just as it ought to.

Interestingly, when you select "Computer" from the "Go" menu on the finder, the only thing that appears is the network globe. Is this ever actually useful for anything?
  • Currently 3.67 / 5
  You rated: 3 / 5 (3 votes cast)

Show only external hard drives on the desktop | 7 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Show only external hard drives on the desktop' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Authored by: Hedderik on Sep 15, '02 11:47:40AM

But what would be really useful, is to be able to hide "/" on the desktop, but having it still available in the "Computer" finder window. Does anyone know a way to achieve this?

- Hedderik.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: Hedderik on Sep 15, '02 01:31:31PM

...a solution that works ok is to customize the Toolbar and add the harddisk to it. This way, I'll have easy access to the harddisk while I can still have it hidden on my desktop.

- Hedderik

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: chabig on Sep 16, '02 01:05:07AM

My Finder preferences are set to open new windows to my Home folder. And my default window view is column view. Even after I hid / using this hint, when I open a new Finder window, the root volume does appear because it's in the hierarchy to my home folder. It's only in the icon and list views that the root colume is hidden.


[ Reply to This | # ]
The Computer menuitem
Authored by: aranor on Sep 15, '02 02:06:11PM

The Computer menuitem brings you to a window with all the drives and the Network globe. The reason you're just seeing the Network globe is because you made your drives hidden.

[ Reply to This | # ]
SharePoints AutoMounter
Authored by: mhorn on Sep 16, '02 12:18:51AM

You can use SharePoints AutoMounter ( to place servers in the /Network/Servers/ area. In time, I hope to expand it to support more of the /Network folders.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: Hedderik on Oct 14, '02 11:29:34AM

Although I still use this tip to hide my hard disk from the desktop, one has to remember to UNHIDE (SetFile -a v /) root before booting into Classic. If the root is still hidden when running Classic, it's not (easily) possible to boot back into OSX as Select Startup folder is not able to "see" the hidden Mac OS X root drive. I had to boot to a OS X FireWire disk to be able to select the hidden OS X.

- Hedderik.

[ Reply to This | # ]
From Anonymous...
Authored by: robg on Sep 12, '03 09:34:27AM
Submitted as a hint, but belongs here with this one...
By hiding the startup volume, you will be unable to install applications, at least in Classic, such as MS Office. Trying to launch it so it can perform it's magic reinstall process will fail, giving you a message about the hard drive not being available, and the name of the drive will be gibberish.

At the same time, using the Open and Save dialog boxes won't work properly, as you'll be stuck in some folder or even the Desktop, unable to navigate to any folder above the one you're in. Making the drive visible again solves both problems.

[ Reply to This | # ]