Show Desktop in OS X and Other Navigation Tips

One of the most perplexing differences between Macs and PCs is something that should be obvious in both Operating Systems–the ability to quickly show the desktop. Windows does this very well, usually with a button in the task manager or with a simple keystroke combination. Macs, however, make something that should be simple a dubious task. Fortunately, Mission Control gives you the ability to do virtually anything you want in navigation. We’ll show you how to setup Hot Corners, Keyboard shortcuts and extra desktops so you can quickly navigate your way through OS X Lion like a pro.

Show Desktop and Other Navigation Tips in OS X

In OS X Lion, Mission Control resides in your dock. Clicking the icon quickly explodes all of your windows and displays them on your desktop.

multiple desktops in OS X Lion

As you can see above, all of our open programs are quickly displayed on the screen when we click the Mission Control icon. Now the cool part: Although you cannot see it in the picture above, you can drag any of these programs into the upper right corner of the screen where a “+” symbol will appear. Drop it onto the plus and it will now have its own desktop. In the example above, you can see we have three desktops at the top.

What is the advantage of this? Since you can assign any background to these virtual desktops, you can have a colorful background for your main screen and a generic color for your Photoshop background. Or you can set iTunes up in one of these desktops and have a background of your favorite band.

Use Mission Control For Navigation

You can also configure Mission Control to give you more options, such as easily displaying the desktop. To do this, click the Apple icon in the left corner of the top menu, and then select System Preferences.

system preferences in Mac os x

In the Personal section at the top, click on Mission Control.

hot corners in OS X

You can click in the Keyboard and Mouse section and select an open key on your keyboard as we have done (F6) to display the desktop. Since the key is open, there is no need to click additional keys like “fn” or “control.” Or you can click the button at the bottom called Hot Corners.

show desktop with hot corners

A window will appear with four drop-down menus. Each drop-down represents a corner of the screen. In the example above, we designated the lower-left of the screen to launch the desktop. So when we drag the mouse into the lower-left corner of the screen, everything disappears and our desktop is revealed. There’s no clicking involved. Once the mouse enters that area, it triggers the Hot Corner. Drag your mouse back into that area and your old windows will reappear.

You can program these corners to quickly launch common tasks, such as launching your applications or showing your screen saver.

Mac OS X Lion Navigation

Navigating in the Mac Operating System can be daunting for PC users, but after learning a few of these tricks you will actually find that they can easily improve your productivity. If you have questions about setting up your navigation preferences in Mac OS X, just ask. Or if you have tips of your own, let us know.

Here’s the video: