How to Display Drive Icons on Your Mac's Desktop

Turn desktop drive icons on and customize their appearance

What to Know

  • Open Finder and go to Finder > Preferences > General. You'll see the devices that can have their associated icon displayed on your desktop.
  • Check a device to display its icon on your desktop. Uncheck any items whose icons you don't want on your desktop.
  • Use a photo as an icon: Open in Preview, select Edit > Copy. Right-click the drive icon, click Get Info, and paste the photo over the current icon.

This article explains how to show or hide drive icons on your Mac's desktop. Your Mac desktop displays icons representing your hard drive, external drives attached to your computer, connected servers, and attached items, such as CDs and DVDs.

How to Change the Drives You See on the Desktop

You may want a clean desktop if you're doing a presentation, or you may prefer that only your main hard drive icon is on your desktop. It's easy to specify which desktop drive icons are visible using the Finder.

  1. Click the desktop or open a Finder window to make sure the Finder is currently the front-most application.

  2. From the Finder menu bar, select Preferences.

    Mac Finder window with Preferences highlighted
  3. In the Finder Preferences window that opens, click the General tab.

    Finder Preferences with General tab highlighted
  4. On the General tab, you'll see a list of devices that can have their associated icon displayed on your desktop:

    Hard disks: This includes internal devices, such as hard drives or SSDs.

    External disks: This references any storage device that's connected via one of your Mac's external ports, such as USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt.

    CDs, DVDs, and iPods: These icons include ejectable media, including optical devices, as well as iPods or iPhones.

    Connected servers: This refers to any network storage devices or networked file systems that are usable by your Mac.

    Finder preferences with desktop icon items highlighted
  5. Place a check mark next to any items you wish to display on the desktop. The selected items will now display on the desktop. Remove the check mark to stop displaying the icon on your desktop. As soon as it's unchecked, the drive icon will be removed from your desktop.

  6. Close the Finder Preferences window. Go back to make adjustments anytime.

How to Use a Picture as a Desktop Drive Icon

It's easy to turn a default drive icon into your favorite picture.

  1. On your Mac, copy the picture you want to use to your Clipboard. An easy way to do this is to open the picture in Preview, then select Edit > Copy.

    Picture open in Preview with Edit > Copy highlighted
  2. Right-click the drive icon you want to replace, then select Get Info.

    Drive icon selected with Get Info higlighted
  3. At the top of the menu, click the current folder icon to select it, then select Edit > Paste.

    Finder with Edit > Paste highlighted and Get Info drive window open
  4. Your chosen picture is now your new desktop drive icon.

    Desktop Drive get info window with new photo icon highlighted

    This method works for changing icons for any file or folder on a Mac. Use a picture, an icon downloaded from the web, or another folder's icon.

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