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In Mac OS X, when the text for a desktop icon is particularly long, it's displayed with an ellipsis: alt text

How do I configure whatever I'm supposed to configure (Finder?) to display that and all text in full? (No ellipses, please!)

Edit: I do know that you can change the icon/text/grid size to allow for more text, but I don't necessarily want a giant grid. So, in a sense, I want the grid to constrain the size of the thumbnails, but not necessarily the file/folder names. 1 of 2 things are preferred here: given my current icon/grid configuration, I want the text to show in full as either

I. one long line that may or may not run into neighboring file/folder names to the right or left, OR

II. multiple lines that may or may not into neighboring file/folder names above or below.

Ideally, the text would not run into its neighbors, but if I could just get the text to display in full, I'll be happy camper. I can arrange the icons later.

If you have a suggestion for a great Finder (is it Finder that controls how things are displayed on the Desktop?) alternative that does this or something like what I've requested, let me know in the comments!

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File names can be a little longer if the desktop displays labels to the right of the icon instead of below. I managed to get 46 characters this way, with 10pt font, and max grid. – Daniel Beck Jan 13 '11 at 14:04
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can't do this in the current Finder. You should look for an alternative that makes your desktop behave more like Windows. (It sounds like a Windows feature to me.)

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Open Terminal and execute:

$ defaults write FXDesktopLayoutGridCharCount -int 50

Then you will have to restart finder:

$ killall -HUP Finder

This will set the maximum characters to 50, you may change it to the value that fits you the best.

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This is correct. Supported by the posts on this Apple forum – Kevin Worthington Mar 15 '11 at 13:16
Doesn't seems to be working on OSX 10.10.4... – BrunoJCM Aug 20 '15 at 23:35

I don't think you can do this without hacking the Finder.

OS X can handle really long filenames, but it also cares about looking nice, mostly because other operating systems have a strong potential to look ugly, and Apple's developers care about design aesthetic.

As a result, icon displays are limited in the amount of text they can display to two lines and whatever horizontal space is available in the grid.

The Finder DOES still have the capability to display gratuitously long filenames in full (or nearly—the limit seems to be about 1000px): just open the Desktop in a finder window, change your view to list, and adjust the window size and column widths to taste.

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Thanks for the info, but your post doesn't address my question. I want to display the long filenames on the Desktop, not Finder, as indicated in my question title. Also, while I agree that Apple has a nice design aesthetic, I, the consumer, should have the final say. Apple can recommend that I adhere to their icon/text/grid sizes, but I should be allowed to go beyond those restrictions so that MY computer behaves the way I want it to so that I can efficiently use it. – Jeremy Detrempe Aug 26 '10 at 21:36
With all due respect, that's a little like complaining that you can't fly across the Atlantic in your Humvee. There's just no code in the Finder to do that. It's starting to seem like Apple has gotten a bad rap of sorts for the control it exerts over the iOS App store. OS X is NOT that kind of locked down system, and people do take advantage of that (see Haxies, Finder alternatives). At the end of the day, if Apple's products are not up to your specs, you're free to provide feedback:, use a Haxie or alternative Finder, or just don't buy the product. – NReilingh Aug 27 '10 at 2:39
Well, that's the kind of answer I was looking for (not the weird part about Apple's bad rap, but the part with the suggestion to find an alternative). Coming from Windows, I can't believe I didn't think to look for a Finder alternative! That's so silly of me. :P – Jeremy Detrempe Jan 14 '11 at 19:50

You can go to View -> Show View Options (+J) and set the grid size to max, although really long filenames (with no spaces) maybe still have ellipses.

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I know that changing the icon/text/grid size allows for more text to be displayed, but I don't want to change those settings. I want to change how it displays the text; that is, to get rid of the ellipses altogether and go with a multi-line display. – Jeremy Detrempe Aug 25 '10 at 19:28

You can change the grid spacing to allow more text. That way your icons stay at a reasonable size but the text will flow to a second line if necessary.

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In the finder, go to "View > Show View Options" and change the LABEL POSITION to RIGHT instead of BOTTOM.

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This doesn't seem to be possible anymore. According to this forum post (and my own testing), FXDesktopLayoutGridCharCount was discontinued in 10.7 (Lion).


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SecondaryClick on Desktop -> Show view options -> Adjust the Icon Size and Grid Spacing according to your requirement.

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