Any way to automatically make alias or icons to show up on the left side of apple desktop. By default they go to the right.

  • 1
    This is one of the solutions in macOS I don't understand. Why does Apple force users to have icons on the right? You can drag them to the left, but that's not the point. When you sort them by name everything goes back to the right. Even when you open Desktop directory in Finder, icons are aligned to the left! That's inconsistent. I have my system language set to a left to right script one, not Arabic or Hebrew... Is this the famous Apple user experience?
    – vtvs
    May 15, 2018 at 8:52

5 Answers 5


There is no way to force icons to go to the left automatically (and stay arranged by the criterion you choose).

As a workaround, you can change the View Options in Finder to not arrange items by any criterion and place icons manually on the left.

  • Click on an empty space on the desktop.
  • Press Cmd+J or use the mouse to go to the Finder's View > Show View Options menu.
  • In the Sort by: dropdown in the dialog, choose either None or Snap to Grid.
  • You'll be able to drop files anywhere on your desktop and they'll stay there.

See Mac Basics: Modify your windows for more information.

Also go through the Mac Basics pages to learn more about using a Mac.

  • 1
    Q is asking about the automatic Clean Up By and Sort By choices, I believe, in the Finder View menu--and that would be kind of cool. Why only arrange to the right?
    – Zo219
    Oct 18, 2013 at 19:39
  • Thanks. I missed the automatic part and have corrected the answer.
    – M K
    Oct 19, 2013 at 6:00
  • Snap to Grid is close to what I usually need.
    – Eric
    Jan 13, 2021 at 7:59
  • The annoying thing about this is that the notification center badges ALSO open in the upper right and they can block visibility of some of your icons and sometimes you cannot dismiss the notifications without rebooting. Apple should fix this.
    – djangofan
    Apr 10 at 21:37

This is not the best solution but it can work if nothing else does...

  1. Create an Automator Folder Action associated with the Desktop.
  2. Add the item: "run applescript"
  3. Paste the following code in the applescript text box:

    -- https://gist.github.com/mrienstra/8330528
    -- Based on http://www.tuaw.com/2012/12/24/applescript-desktop-icon-race/
    -- Inspired by http://namesakecomic.com/comic/happy-new-year-from-namesake/#comment-1182035013
    -- Rearranges Desktop icons to flow from left to right, top to bottom.
    -- To have this run automatically every time files are added or removed from the Desktop, set this script to run as a Desktop "Folder Action". (See https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/documentation/applescript/conceptual/applescriptlangguide/reference/ASLR_folder_actions.html )
    -- This is currently a rough proof-of-concept. It has only been tested with OS X 10.8.5 (Mountain Lion).
    -- Current known limitations: Does not work with "Label position" set to "Right" (specifically, icons will overlap).
    -- Adjust these for different spacing
    property theSpacingFactor : 1.0
    property theGutterXFactor : 0.57
    property theGutterYFactor : 0.57
    on rearrangeDesktopIcons()
        tell application "Finder"
            tell icon view options of window of desktop
                set theArrangement to arrangement
                set theArrangementString to theArrangement as string
                if {"not arranged", "«constant ****narr»", "snap to grid", "«constant ****grda»"} does not contain theArrangementString then
                    display alert "\"Rearrange Desktop Icons\" AppleScript says:" message "Cannot rearrange Desktop items, please change Desktop \"Sort by\" to \"None\" or \"Snap to Grid\"." giving up after 10
                end if
                set theIconSize to icon size
                set theLabelSize to text size
            end tell
            set theDesktopBounds to bounds of window of desktop
            set theDesktopWidth to item 3 of theDesktopBounds
            set theDesktopHeight to item 4 of theDesktopBounds
            -- Retrieve a list of items on the desktop
            set theDesktopItems to every item of desktop
            set theContestantOffset to theIconSize / 2
            set theSpacing to (theIconSize + theLabelSize + theContestantOffset) * theSpacingFactor
            set theGuttersX to theSpacing * theGutterXFactor
            set theGuttersY to theSpacing * theGutterYFactor
            set theMaxColumns to ((theDesktopWidth - theGuttersX * 2) / theSpacing) as integer
            set theMaxRows to ((theDesktopHeight - theGuttersY * 2) / theSpacing) as integer
            set theMaxLocations to theMaxRows * theMaxColumns
            set y to 1
            repeat with a from 1 to length of theDesktopItems
                set x to a mod theMaxColumns
                if x is 0 then
                    set x to theMaxColumns
                end if
                if a is greater than theMaxLocations then
                    set desktop position of item a of theDesktopItems to {theGuttersX, theGuttersY}
                    set desktop position of item a of theDesktopItems to {theGuttersX + (x - 1) * theSpacing, theGuttersY + (y - 1) * theSpacing}
                end if
                if a mod theMaxColumns is 0 then
                    set y to y + 1
                end if
            end repeat
        end tell
    end rearrangeDesktopIcons
    on adding folder items to alias after receiving listOfAlias
    end adding folder items to
    on removing folder items from alias after losing listOfAliasOrText
    end removing folder items from

So whenever a file is added to your Desktop, all files will be rearranged alphabetically...

  • I know that this is not a frequent solution, but THANK YOU. This is slick.
    – anonymoose
    Apr 3, 2021 at 21:22
  • Apps > Automator.app > Menu > File > New > Folder Action. /// (At top of edit area) Folder Action receives files and folders added to > Other > Desktop. /// Library > Utilities > Run AppleScript > Hit Enter. /// Copy code above > Paste into AppleScript box. /// Menu > Save
    – Denis Howe
    Jun 23, 2022 at 12:33

Organize all the folders in the order you want them. Then under View hit 'clean up.' This will align everything nicely. Then you can simply highlight all of the folders and position them exactly where you want them. Macs don't organize folders on the left, only the right, but with a couple of easy steps you can have everything neatly organized on the left.

  • This should read 'view' instead of 'window' sorry, that was my bad.
    – MikeZ
    Dec 13, 2016 at 23:26
  • There is an edit link below the answer which allows to edit the text directly :-)
    – nohillside
    Dec 14, 2016 at 8:38
  • He said, "automatically". We know we can move them but we don't want to have to.
    – Denis Howe
    Jun 23, 2022 at 12:07

This may provide you with an alternative solution to the answer you are looking for (How to make your icons on a Mac desktop monitor appear on the left-hand side instead of the right-hand side?), It is the nearest work-around for me. (See last paragraph.) and works if you have more than one monitor.

I have three monitors arrange on my desk left, centre and right (like three sides of a box). The main display was on my right and my day to day working display right in front of me in the centre. I was always straining my neck when looking for icons on the Main monitor located to the right. They were on the far-right of the right hand screen. The icons were too far away, particularly considering that my monitor is a 65¨display.

All I did was change the main monitor to the screen on the left. Now, although these desktop items are on the right-hand side of the monitor on my left. they are as close to the left-hand side of my main working central display as you can get. To change which display is your main monitor (The main monitor is the one which displays the desktop items), do the following:

  1. Click on the Apple in the top left of your monitor
  2. Select System Preferences
  3. Choose "Displays" (third or fourth row down on the right)
  4. Click "Display Settings" (at the bottom)
  5. In the list of monitors on the left, select the monitor which corresponds to the display on your left, and click it.
  6. Now go to the "Use as" drop-down menu at the top, and change from "Extended Display" to "Main Display" That's it. You're done.

I just highlighted all the folders from the right hand side, then grabbed them all and pasted to the left.

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