Desktop vs. File Called "Desktop"

Jul 15, 2010
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Ok, so I consider my "desktop" to be what I see on my screen when I first turn on the computer. That wallpaper photo with a bunch of icons on it. It's the ever-present screen 'behind' your browser, or whatever it is you're doing.

In Finder, under "Favorites", Desktop is listed there, and the contents therein seem to be exactly what is on my desktop. But then under "Devices", it goes Cargo's Mac> MacIntosh HD> and then there's 16 folders, one of which is "Desktop". And the files contained in that folder are very similar to, though not exactly the same as, the ones on my actual desktop.

When I download something "to my desktop", sometimes it goes to my actual desktop, other times it goes to the FILE called "Desktop". I'm tired of this. Can I delete that file called Desktop under Devices/MacIntosh HD without screwing anything up? Would future downloads always go to my "actual" desktop? There is a ton of stuff in there, over 11 GB worth. I would have to go through it to make sure I don't throw out anything I need. I'm not sure if it actually contains different files or just files/folders that aren't organized/up to date like my real desktop...

Or maybe it's un-deletable? Or maybe you can delete it, but as soon as you go to download something the system puts it right back -- a file called Desktop.


This is a late 2009 iMac 21.5" with Yosemite 10.10.2.


Well-known member
Staff member
May 20, 2008
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Your Mac's Specs
2017 15" MBP, 16gig ram, 1TB SSD, OS 10.15
This may be terminology confusion.

- The "Desktop" you see…think of that as the "Desktop Pattern" or "Desktop Photo" or "Desktop Image".
- The "Desktop Area"…is just that…and area that you can put things (files) or see things (Icons).

So think of these two things as the "Desktop Image" that you see…and as a "Desktop Place" where things can be located (files/apps/etc.).

- Nick

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