Q&A: Tuning Desktop appearance

Q I have just set up my new MacBook Pro 15” and have forgotten how to fine-tune my Desktop. I want two or three folders to stay on my Desktop, with icons at a fixed size of 40 x 40, not leaping up to the top of the screen. The initial display resolution of 1680 x 1050 results in too fine text and detail, so I want to keep the it at 1440 x 852, but fonts then appear fuzzy. How can I sort these irritations out?

A Turning off alignment of icons, as with altering the icon size, is easiest by clicking on your Desktop, then Control-click and hold to bring up the contextual menu. In that select the Show View Options command to adjust icon size and spacing, and ensure that Snap to Grid is turned off in the Sort by submenu.

These Desktop preference settings should then be stored in the hidden .DS_Store file in the Desktop folder, but this has long proved a fragile and unreliable mechanism. You might find it helpful to remove that hidden file, using TinkerTool System or similar, and set your Desktop up again.

Each display has an optimal resolution in which content is clearest, and your chosen display resolution does not appear to be the clearest for that particular model. Try opening the General pane; at the foot of that, turn on (or off) the option to ‘Use LCD font smoothing when available’. Choice of fonts can also make a difference, but requires a third-party utility.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 27 issue 16, 2011.