How can I use my Home as the Desktop directory in Yosemite? Deleting the Desktop directory doesn't work after a restart. I would like to do this because I don't like to switch to Desktop dir everytime I take to Terminal and would like to see all my dirs on the "Desktop" screen.

Also please address the permissions aspect of any solution. Since I notice that some of the OSX created directories in my Home have this permission: "drwx------+" I worry that fixing my issue will have ramifications for permissions.

Can I have what I want with the permissions Apple has set?

  • the permission is related to this question in the sense, am not able to delete the Desktop directory as user (have to use sudo) because it has this permission. – Sindhu S Apr 10 '15 at 14:16
  • @Tetsujin Normally, I'm one to bang the "one question per question" hammer with great enthusiasm - but I've edited this to really be a constraint on any solutions. A question on "why did Apple choose these permissions" isn't what we really want on the site. A question that's "I want to do this and also worry about if Apple's choice of XYZ permissions will mess up potential solutions" is super awesome and I really want more of them. People learn a lot and OP gets a perfect solution. Thoughts on my edit? – bmike Apr 17 '15 at 14:17
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    @bmike - makes more sense as it now stands with your edit. I'll pull my comments. – Tetsujin Apr 17 '15 at 14:19

Let's say you want to make this change for account bob.


Log in as alice which is admin.

Then enter the following sequence of commands (within a Terminal or xterm window):

cd /Users/bob
/usr/bin/sudo mv Desktop Desktop.orig
/usr/bin/sudo ln -s . Desktop

Logout of alice account. Login as bob.


To roll back this modification:

Logout of bob account. Login as alice.

Then enter the following sequence of commands:

cd /Users/bob
/usr/bin/sudo rm Desktop
/usr/bin/sudo mv Desktop.orig Desktop

Logout of alice account. Login as bob.


The Desktop is an area of high risk. Any adventurous drag and key sequence may cause a large damage (+A, +…). For this reason I advise my colleagues to leave their Desktop empty as a rule of basic security.

When using your Home folder as your Desktop, you are exposing your Home folder to this risk of manual error.

Hence I wouldn't recommand the above receipe to anyone below the experienced user level.

  • 1
    I love unix and hard links and soft links and what you can do with them under the hood. Nice one Daniel – bmike Apr 17 '15 at 14:12

I'm trying to refrain from starting with "Why would you want to do that?"

You cannot delete the Desktop Folder, the OS should tell you it is a required folder & not allow it. I suppose you could sudo it, but my guess is it would either replace it after a relog, or just cause problems.

Even if you did manage to force it to remove the Desktop Folder, what would the OS then use as your Desktop? It certainly wouldn't default to your Home folder, that's not its job.

I'm sure it would be far simpler all round, if you do want your Home Folders contents directly displayed on your desktop, to make Aliases of those folders & put them inside the Desktop Folder.

  • Why does it need a Desktop dir? – Sindhu S Apr 10 '15 at 14:18
  • … to display things on your desktop... – Tetsujin Apr 10 '15 at 14:19
  • @sindhus It's just the design idiom. In older OS, there were some performance issues with having too many files visible on the desktop so minimizing the count there was a performance enhancement. Now that daemons are summoned to render previews and not block the main thread, it's not such a big deal. It's never a big deal when the user doesn't have 500+ files visible in that folder. – bmike Apr 17 '15 at 14:13

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