Fastest Way to Fix Mac Desktop Icon Size

The Fastest Way to Change Mac Desktop Icon Sizes in macOS

Do you need to quickly fix the size of your Mac’s desktop icons? Have your icons suddenly gotten quite large or quite small? Here’s the fix. There’s a keyboard shortcut that can help you accomplish this easily. This easy-to-do keystroke is also probably the cause of the problem in the first place. Mac desktop icon size wasn’t a problem I’d faced in the past, so I have feeling that some changes were made in Big Sur. But I’m not 100% certain on this point.

It should be said that, with some clicking and time, you can open a configuration window allows you to have very granular control over desktop icon size/spacing. There are plenty of resources online about how to do that.

But for me, I felt like there had a way to change desktop icon size without going into any menus or settings. I knew that must be a way, because I kept changing the desktop icon size accidentally, using keyboard shortcuts.

It turns out that the same keyboard shortcuts that control zoom in all major browsers will also quickly change the size of your desktop icons. That is, as long as you’ve actively clicked on the desktop.

The 2 Simple Steps to Quickly Change Desktop Icon Sizes

  1. Left-Click (“normal” click) once on any part of the desktop.
    ⚠️This is an important first step, that really tripped me up at first. You can’t just use your favourite gestures or keystrokes to sweep away all of the active open windows in order to reveal the desktop.

    Instead, you have to actively take the step of closing or minimizing enough windows so that you can see an empty part of the desktop. Click once.



  2. Use The Standard Zoom In/Zoom Out Keyboard Shortcuts
    Just as you would do in a browser, you can now use either of the following keystrokes to quickly change the size of the icons: Command+ and Command-.

    You may have to tap the “plus” or “minus” key a few times, in order to get the icons back to your preferred size.
macos-increase-desktop-icons-with-keyboard-command-plus
How to Make Icons Larger with the Keyboard

macos-decrease-desktop-icons-with-keyboard-command-minus
How to Make Icons Smaller with the Keyboard

If I had to guess what’s causing this for you, I would say that you’re a Power User like me and that you were a little too quick with your keyboard shortcuts. I think for me, this might be happening when I intend delete something using Cmd+delete, but instead hit Cmd++.

It’s Still Not Working For Me – My Mac Desktop Icon Size is still Wrong

Hmm… Is there any chance that you skipped Step 1 above? You have actively and purposefully click once on an empty part of the desktop. You can’t use hand gestures or F3 keystrokes to temporarily whisk away your windows, and then click. You actually have to minimize or close enough windows to click on the desktop once.

If it still doesn’t work, then I imagine you need to go into the settings and do more granular changes. You can do this by clicking anywhere on the desktop and using the keyboard to type Command + J. Once your’e there, you’ll be able to change the desktop’s icon size and grid spacing.

Why Doesn’t Command+0 Work, Like in My Browser?

With each webpage, the creator of that webpage has an intended size for the page’s elements. That’s 100%. You can adjust up and down from there, depending on your needs and preferences. In a browser, when you type Cmd+0, the zoom settings will reset to 100%, to match the web creator’s design specs.

However, when it comes to desktop icons, there’s no single, default value. Everyone’s desktop is their own, which means that’s everyone’s “100%” will be different. As a result, you have to make size changes incrementally, using Command plus & minus.

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