How to Show Desktop with Mac Lion

Being a new Mac user, there are one or two (or a hundred thousand) Mac things that have caused me a just a little frustration. One of the biggest annoyances is the fact that there is NO Show Desktop option on Mac Lion. It drives me crazy!!

Today I made an accidental discovery as my fingers dawdled across the track pad…

It is possible to get the MacBook Pro’s OS X Lion equivalent to Show Desktop. 

I’ve googled this a number of times, to no success. I’m not saying others haven’t posted how-to tutorials, I just know that I haven’t found them or followed them accurately, because I certainly haven’t ever done what I did today.

For all those other frustrated Mac users, (Yes, I am being cheeky, so please don’t be offended. :P) here’s how I show Desktop using Mac Lion…

Step One. Three-finger sweep up the trackpad.

Step Two:  Hover your cursoron the top right of the screen to show a Desktop thumbnail. Click on the thumbnail.

Step Three:  Voilà! Click on your new Desktop icon and you can indeed show your desktop.

Each time you do a three-finger swipe up the trackpad you will now have the option of Dashboard, Desktop1, or Desktop2. Or you can do a three-finger sideways swipe while on an active desktop, and flick between Dashboard, Desktop1, and Desktop2.

You can even add multiple desktops by following the same process. Who knew?

I’m thinking you could perhaps create different desktops for different applications, to save cluttering your desktop. (Since I usually have about 20 open documents/applications, this may simplify a lot of clutter!) It could be good to have one desktop with my current WIPs open as Word documents, and one desktop for email and internet, maybe even one for photos…

Suddenly the options are seemingly endless.

Moment of truth… Did you know? Or have I just saved your sanity?



  1. Pingback: How to Show Desktop with Mac Lion « Kathryn Apel | Tech Unleashed

  2. Quickest way is Command Key + F3. It pushes the open Apps off to the side so you can click/move things on your desktop.

    Command + F3 again to go back to your open apps.

    I use this all the the time since saving screen captures go to the desktop and then moving them to an email.


    • You’re brilliant! Thanks for sharing. And yes, it is for that exact reason that I want to show desktop – to drag/drop screen captures into emails and documents. I have also discovered that ‘Trackpad’ -> ‘More Gestures’ has an option for ‘Show Desktop’ – with thumb and three fingers. You need to activate it manually. But your Command+F3 is much easier!

      And I do still like the multiple desktops!


      • you can also , instead of clicking shift+command+f4 or f3 , click shift+command+control+f3 (or f4) and then just paste it onto the email


    • But it WASN’T easy, coz you were all being driven crazy!
      (and on Windows you just click on the little “Show Desktop” button on the bottom right and Voila).


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