Since early Mac versions, I have been able to rearrange the icons on my desktop. Until I use one of the "Cleanup" options, they can be in pretty much random positions, even overlapping each other. The same layout of of file, directory, and app icons appears on all Desktop/Workspaces.

Where is that information on icon position stored?

What I would like to try doing is having the Desktop folder actually be a symlink that can be set to point to folders Desktop1, Desktop2, etc. I want to use the Current Key app (free) and it's use of AppleScript functions (https://currentkey.com/room-change-alerts/) to change that symlink on the fly, whenever I change desktops, so that I get a different set of icons for each desktop space that I'm in.

I would also like to preserve the layout of each set of desktop icons by also swapping the layout file.

Where can I find that layout file? (If it's a hiddent file in the Desktop directory then I might be home free.)



1 Answer 1


Mac OS X/macOS stores Finder layout information (including desktop icon placement) within the .DS_Store file that's located inside the current directory.

  • Thanks, @AT0mic. That means it gets copied along with the rest of the Desktop folder. That's what I was hoping and didn't know where to look. ---- However, I was mistaken that I'm now "home free" because it turns out that the only way to get the desktop to refresh is to restart the Finder and that is not a speedy process, it has to rebuild every open Finder window too.
    – August
    Jan 10, 2021 at 1:14
  • That restarting Finder problem has been solved by Clarity shirt-ediss.me/clarity. Clarity works by moving everything out of the Desktop folder rather than replacing the whole folder, so restarting Finder is not needed. That means it gets a new set of icons (none, or restoring the original set, or whatever) fairly quickly. (apple.stackexchange.com/questions/406287/…)
    – August
    Jan 17, 2022 at 8:32

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