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

It should hide all applications and show a clean desktop.

  • 8
    Exposé will do that for you. There's also command-alt-H to hide others. May 11, 2010 at 12:56
  • What is Exposé?
    – George2
    May 11, 2010 at 12:57
  • 3
  • 5
    @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. Jan 16, 2014 at 16:45
  • wondering how this works now that macbook pros have the touch bar
    – ucb
    Jul 17, 2017 at 20:24

17 Answers 17


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 Starting with OS X 10.7, Exposé has been replaced by Mission Control.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.

Note that F11 will not work if you have a full screen window on screen (like the browser in full-screen mode), you will have to switch to the Desktop mode first (using F3, for example) before using F11.

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

  • 1
    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 kevingessner.com/software/functionflip
    – ridogi
    Jul 3, 2010 at 19:23
  • 2
    Cmd+F3 doesn't work if I have a fullscreen window either. macbook here not macbook pro
    – Pacerier
    Feb 2, 2019 at 10:15
  • To get this to work on my Mac, I had to enable the F11 keyboard shortcut via System Preferences → Keyboard → Shortcuts tab → Mission Control → Show Desktop → check the checkbox. Feb 7, 2020 at 15:49
  • 1
    This works on Mojave, and it works on Catalina Macbook Pros w/ the Touch Bar thing-y. Pressing fn-F11 a 2nd time restores the windows that were open.
    – Seamus
    Mar 14, 2020 at 6:23
  • With fn-f11, the desktop view is unusable though? What is the point? How do I show the desktop in a usable way Mar 19 at 20:11

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.

  • 3
    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. Jan 16, 2014 at 16:39
  • For those who like to use their function keys for other things besides volume control (and therefore use fn + F?), use command + fn + F3.
    – SMBiggs
    Feb 14, 2016 at 20:00
  • Thanks. Doesn't have to be a "new MacBook Pro". Works on 2009 machine updated to El Capitan. Nov 5, 2016 at 19:57

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.

  • 4
    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, 2014 at 17:36
  • 1
    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, 2015 at 15:57
  • Actually it does show some animation. May 8, 2017 at 21:25
  • @Tyler, There's animation.
    – Pacerier
    Feb 2, 2019 at 10:29
  • This is the same as <kbd>F11</kbd>. Apr 20, 2023 at 10:07

EDIT: For viewing desktop using trackpad gesture: "spread with thumb and 3 fingers"

Original Answer: For those who are used to Windows looking for how to change Command + D to show the desktop, follow these instructions:

  • System Preferences
  • → Keyboard
  • → Shortcuts
  • → Mission Control
  • → Show Desktop
  • → Click on right command (F11)
  • → Press Command + D
  • Works for me with my new QWERTY Italian on Catalina Nov 18, 2019 at 15:13
  • 4
    Possible interference: "Command + D" is by default also set as "Add Bookmark…" in safari. May 25, 2020 at 8:19
  • Alternatively OPT + D shortcut Jun 1, 2022 at 16:03
  • Why is this not the accepted answer? Fn+F11 with the touchbar is slow and annoying.
    – Francesco
    Jun 23, 2022 at 12:57
  • @Francesco added better/quickest solution. Jun 24, 2022 at 5:35

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.

  • "Cmd+H will hide the active app" -- not working for Entourage.
    – George2
    May 11, 2010 at 13:05
  • This actually worked. Dec 3, 2014 at 7:27

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

  • F11 is for sound for my MacBook Pro.
    – George2
    May 11, 2010 at 12:59
  • 6
    For newer macs it is the <kbd>Command</kbd> + <kbd>F3</kbd> key.
    – jweede
    May 11, 2010 at 13:28

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

  • 1
    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, 2015 at 7:20

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.

  • F11 is for sound for my MacBook Pro.
    – George2
    May 11, 2010 at 13:00
  • "I tend to Apple-H" -- any key called Apple for MacBook Pro?
    – George2
    May 11, 2010 at 13:01
  • 2
    "Apple Key" -> Command Key
    – jweede
    May 11, 2010 at 13:28

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

  • Yep, this worked on desktop Mac as well. Dec 3, 2014 at 7:30
  • 3
    This is an old shortcut. And only applies to all windows in the current application.
    – cde
    Oct 1, 2015 at 20:02
  • cmd opt M doesn't show desktop but minimize all to taskbar. It screwed up my taskbar and is annoying when people are looking to Show Desktop and there's no way to undo it because you wouldn't know how many windows were first minimized.
    – Pacerier
    Feb 2, 2019 at 10:28

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.


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

Setup Karabiner via https://pqrs.org/osx/karabiner/index.html.en

Navigate to Karabiner preferences' "Misc & Uninstall" tab and select "Open private.xml" as described at https://pqrs.org/osx/karabiner/document.html.en#privatexml

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!

Edit2: On High Sierra you are supposed to use the all new Karabiner Elements app. It uses JSON based configuration. I use this rule to have "Command+D" to work as an alias for "Fn+F11":

  "title": "Command+D show desktop",
  "rules": [
      "description": "Command+D show desktop",
      "manipulators": [
          "type": "basic",
          "from": {
            "key_code": "d",
            "modifiers": {
              "mandatory": [
          "to": [
              "key_code": "f11",
              "modifiers": ["fn"]
  • 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 :) Dec 3, 2014 at 7:34

Check http://displaydesktop.com

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.


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: http://www.everydaysoftware.net/showdesktop/


If you don't really like the Cmd+F3 option (the apps hovering at the corners don't really feel like "I've reached my desktop" for me) and need the exact same Windows-style Windows+D feature, you can try this,

1) Create a new desktop.

2) For the most frequently used applications on your dock, right-click on them, and select Options->Assign->Desktop 2.

3) Go to System Preferences->Keyboard->Shortcuts->Mission Control and assign shortcuts for your main desktop and desktop 2.

Lo and behold, you have a shortcut to reach your desktop. This system works really well for me and helps me multi-task very well. It also has the added advantage of not minimizing any windows. All windows are a desktop away.

I also set my Finder app to launch in my main desktop as I use it to browse and open files, which open in other desktops.

Of course, this won't work for new apps unless you set the option for them too explicitly. But I feel the purpose behind the question was to improve your everyday workflow, which would only involve frequently-used applications. And this option will definitely help. (For me, I explicitly made Preview, Terminal, Chrome, Sublime Text and some 4-5 other apps to launch on the second desktop).


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


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.

  • This doesn't really answer the question that was asked.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 17, 2015 at 6:38

If you have a scroll wheel mouse then tap the scroll wheel (ie depress it and it takes to straight to the desktop and back to the app when you press it again

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