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I am using a MacBook Pro with Mac OS X 10.5. Is there a similar function to "show desktop" (shortcut is WindowsD) on a Mac? 

It should hide all applications and show a clean desktop.

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migrated from May 11 '10 at 13:02

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Exposé will do that for you. There's also command-alt-H to hide others. – Williham Totland May 11 '10 at 12:56
What is Exposé? – George2 May 11 '10 at 12:57
@WillihamTotland Depending on what George2 was looking for Exposé might not be the solution. With the Windows+D shortcut all windows are hidden and you can interact with the Desktop (icons, etc). Exposé doesn't allow that (as far as I can tell). For me the solution was fideli's answer of ⌘+fn+F3. – Jeremy Wiebe Jan 16 '14 at 16:45

15 Answers 15

up vote 224 down vote accepted

On older versions of OS X, it's one of the Exposé keys. Starting with OS X 10.7, Exposé has been replaced by Mission Control.

The default is F11. On a MacBook you will have to press fnF11, as the keys are used for controlling volume by default.

If that's not the right one, look in your System Preferences to see which one it is.

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You can specify for example that F1 and F2 without function key are brightness, and F11 also without function key is show desktop. See this app to set it up like that – ridogi Jul 3 '10 at 19:23

If F11 by default decreases volume for you, you need to instead press FnF11. You can change that setting in the Keyboard System Preferences: Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys . After enabling that, F11 will show desktop, and FnF11 will decrease volume.

Some people have mentioned that F3 also works to show the desktop.

If it's a new MacBook Pro, you can also use a three-finger spread to show the desktop. Check out Trackpad in the System Preferences for a demonstration of that:

Also, in the Exposé / Mission Control System Preferences, you can set up an Active Screen Corner where you can send the mouse to to show the desktop.

What others are referring to as CmdH refers to the H on your keyboard. That hides the current application and shows whatever's behind it, which may or may not be the desktop depending on what other applications are running. Switch to the Finder, close any Finder windows, and H will hide all other applications, revealing the desktop. This would not show the edges of other windows.

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Thanks! ⌘F3 was it for me, except I had to add the fn key because I have the option "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys" turned on. – Jeremy Wiebe Jan 16 '14 at 16:39
Thanks for showing the trackpad option as well! – Phuah Yee Keat Feb 14 '14 at 20:16
For those who like to use their function keys for other things besides volume control (and therefore use fn + F?), use command + fn + F3. – Scott Biggs Feb 14 at 20:00

Use F3 on Mavericks and newer Macbook Pros.

This doesn't require use of the Fn key. It's similar to F3, but is instantaneous because it shows no animation.

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I found that it required the fn key, perhaps because I have to swap the physical controls with the real function keys (function keys are for functions!) – orbfish Nov 4 '14 at 17:36
To confirm what orbfish said, the need for the Fn key depends on your settings. Like orbfish, and Jeremy Wiebe, I have the option "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys" turned on. – LarsH Apr 20 '15 at 15:57

Cmd+H will hide the active app and cmd+alt+H will hide all Windows. But you should use Exposé. Just take a look into the settings. There you can configure an screen corner: When you move the mouse in this corner it will move all windows away from the screen und you can see the desktop.

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"Cmd+H will hide the active app" -- not working for Entourage. – George2 May 11 '10 at 13:05
This actually worked. – Henrik Erlandsson Dec 3 '14 at 7:27

Pressing F11 sends all the windows to the borders, showing the desktop. F11 again restores everything in its previous place.

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F11 is for sound for my MacBook Pro. – George2 May 11 '10 at 12:59
For newer macs it is the <kbd>Command</kbd> + <kbd>F3</kbd> key. – jweede May 11 '10 at 13:28

F11, by default, will Expose the Desktop, and shove all the open windows to the side.

Personally, I tend to Apple-H all windows I'm not using, keeps them in the background but out of the way. You could also look into using spaces.

Here's a good cheat sheet for keyboard shortcuts on OS X.

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F11 is for sound for my MacBook Pro. – George2 May 11 '10 at 13:00
"I tend to Apple-H" -- any key called Apple for MacBook Pro? – George2 May 11 '10 at 13:01
"Apple Key" -> Command Key – jweede May 11 '10 at 13:28
Thanks! Your reply is very helpful! – George2 May 11 '10 at 15:33

A related feature is to minimize all windows to dock COMMAND + OPTION + M, at least on 2014 MacBok Air.

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Yep, this worked on desktop Mac as well. – Henrik Erlandsson Dec 3 '14 at 7:30
This is an old shortcut. And only applies to all windows in the current application. – cde Oct 1 '15 at 20:02

I like to use "Hide application" which hides the windows of the current application (but doesn't close them).

Press ⌘+H repeatedly to hide all applications until you see your desktop.

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What I did is setup Hot Corners in Desktop/Screen Saver preferences that shows the desktop when I bring my pointer into that corner.

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I'm doing this too, just this only works in the main space (or if there's a better name), and it doesn't work with full screen apps, pity. – ryenus May 6 '15 at 7:20

Everbody talking about Expose desktop, and you want a clean desktop, like in windows with win+d shortcut.

That's what this utility actually does and I'm using this for years:

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Here is how I make my Macs have a command+D to show-hide desktop:

Setup Karabiner via

Navigate to Karabiner preferences' "Misc & Uninstall" tab and select "Open private.xml" as described at

Paste below code in private.xml and reload it in Karabiner preferences' first tab.

    <name>Augy's Command+D show desktop</name>
    <appendix>Command+D to F11</appendix>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::D, VK_COMMAND, KeyCode::F11</autogen>

Enable the option "Augy's Command+D show desktop" and enjoy.

NB! You may also want to swap Command and Control keys. This can be done via System Preferences > Keyboard > Modifier Keys

Edit: Good news, this option is now added to karabiner by default, you just have to enable it!

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Voted down because installing a program and writing a script is a way overkill answer to the question. Also, you can map (most) keys to functions in System Preferences. Photoshop users will want to use a different key combo I think :) – Henrik Erlandsson Dec 3 '14 at 7:34


Put it in your bar.

Simplest display desktop program ever. The one I personally used. No settings. NOTHING. Just put it on the bottom bar. Click when you want to clear desktop.

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Command shift f3 works on my iMac. Discovered it by chance.

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Fn + F3 won't work if you have a window open fullscreen. FYI. Not sure on a fix.

Thumb and three finger swipe still works.

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This doesn't really answer the question that was asked. – fixer1234 Mar 17 '15 at 6:38

For those who are used to Windows looking for how to change Command+D to show desktop.

System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts -> Mission Control -> Show Desktop -> "click on right command (F11)" -> "press Command+D"
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