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.

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 Starting with OS X 10.7, Exposé has been replaced by Mission Control.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

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 '10 at 19:23
  • 1
    Cmd+F3 doesn't work if I have a fullscreen window either. macbook here not macbook pro – Pacerier Feb 2 '19 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. – Jon Schneider Feb 7 at 15:49
  • 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 at 6:23

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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. – Jeremy Wiebe Jan 16 '14 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 '16 at 20:00
  • Thanks. Doesn't have to be a "new MacBook Pro". Works on 2009 machine updated to El Capitan. – CodingYourLife Nov 5 '16 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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 '14 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 '15 at 15:57
  • Actually it does show some animation. – Henrique de Sousa May 8 '17 at 21:25
  • @Tyler, There's animation. – Pacerier Feb 2 '19 at 10:29

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • "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

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
| improve this answer | |
  • Works for me, thanks. High Sierra 10.13.5 – MarsAndBack Jun 27 '18 at 13:32
  • Works for me with my new QWERTY Italian on Catalina – Francesco Mantovani Nov 18 '19 at 15:13
  • Possible interference: "Command + D" is by default also set as "Add Bookmark…" in safari. – C-Star-W-Star May 25 at 8:19

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

| improve this answer | |
  • F11 is for sound for my MacBook Pro. – George2 May 11 '10 at 12:59
  • 6
    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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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
  • 1
    "Apple Key" -> Command Key – jweede May 11 '10 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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 '15 at 7:20

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

| improve this answer | |
  • Yep, this worked on desktop Mac as well. – Henrik Erlandsson Dec 3 '14 at 7:30
  • 2
    This is an old shortcut. And only applies to all windows in the current application. – cde Oct 1 '15 at 20:02
  • cmd opt M doesn't show desktop but minimize all to taskbar. It screwed up my taskbar and is fking stupid 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 '19 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.

| improve this answer | |

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"]
| improve this answer | |
  • 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

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/

| improve this answer | |

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).

| improve this answer | |

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.

| improve this answer | |

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

| improve this answer | |

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • This doesn't really answer the question that was asked. – fixer1234 Mar 17 '15 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

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.