Jim Mitchell

AppleScript to Toggle the Desktop

October 16, 2010 5 Comments

Here’s an AppleScript I use to quickly toggle desktop visibility for taking screenshots and recording screencasts. Thought I’d share it with the world.

Copy and paste the code below into AppleScript Editor, or your editor of choice, compile and save.

As always, scripts like this work best using FastScripts from Red Sweater Software.

on run
    tell application "System Events"
        set frontMostApp to name of the first process whose frontmost is true
    end tell
        set theDefault to ((do shell script "defaults read CreateDesktop") as integer) as boolean
    on error -- if the default value doesn't already exist, create it...
        do shell script "defaults write CreateDesktop 1"
        set theDefault to ((do shell script "defaults read CreateDesktop") as integer) as boolean
    end try
    do shell script "defaults write CreateDesktop " & (((not theDefault) as integer) as string)
    tell application "Finder" to quit
    delay 1
    tell application "Finder" to launch
    tell application frontMostApp to activate
end run

Note: This single script turns off the desktop if it’s on, and turns it on if it’s off – just to clear up the question should it need to be asked.

Hacks /


  1. GUido says:

    I ve used the stopy bout i cant toggle on my desktop again HElp!

  2. Jim Mitchell says:

    Run the script again, it’ll toggle your desktop back on – hence “toggle” – as in “off” and “on”.

  3. neeks says:

    It would be even nicer if you replace the last line with

    tell application “Finder” –selects application
    delay 2
    activate application “Finder”
    end tell

    This re opens the windows that were already open when calling the service.

  4. Jim Mitchell says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, neeks.

    An even more elegant solution is to capture the frontmost app first, then hide the desktop, restart the finder, and then reactivate the app that was frontmost.

    I’ve updated the script to reflect that. Works great with FastScripts, too.

  5. Brendan says:

    Thank you. Created and loaded into my Quicksilver catalog.

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