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How to use Stacks in MacOS Mojave

See what Stacks can do for you.


This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET's complete coverage from and about Apple's annual developers conference.

I like to think I keep a neat and orderly desktop, but it does spiral out of control from time to time and I find myself staring at a sea of thumbnails scattered across my MacBook. With MacOS Mojave and its new Stacks feature, I now have a quick and easy way to bring order to my desktop. Let's dive in.

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Mac's Stacks

Mojave's new Stacks feature is just a right click away. Stacks takes all of the files littering your desktop and groups them into neat little stacks along the right edge of your screen. To use it, just right-click on your desktop and click Use Stacks.

Matt Elliott/CNET

If you're worried about Stacks hiding a file that you know you could pinpoint if it were left out among your sea of files, don't. You can easily return to the cluttered desktop view to which you've grown accustomed and from which you can locate any file in under a second. Just right-click again on your desktop and click Use Stacks to uncheck it.

Sort stacks

By default, Stacks organizes your files by file type (which MacOS calls "Kind.") This puts your Word docs in one pile, images in another, PDFs in their own stack and so on. You can, however, sort stacks differently. Right-click on your desktop, mouse over Group Stacks By and you can select Date Last Modified, Date Added, Date Modified, Date Created and Tags. If, like me, you don't use the MacOS tagging feature, the Tags option is a good way to throw all of your files into a single stack, aptly titled No Tags.

Scrub stacks

You can scrub a stack to flip through the thumbnails of the files contained within, but the thumbnails are too small to make scrubbing all that useful, at least on my 13-inch MacBook Pro's ($720 at Amazon) Retina display. To scrub a stack, just mouse over it and swipe -- either vertically or horizontally -- with two or three fingers. If you click on the stack, it will open the file of the thumbnail you are currently viewing.

View stacks

Click on a stack and it expands to show you thumbnails of its files in tidy columns. You can then click to open any file or click the stack icon to close the expanded stack.

Ironically, Stacks will likely lead me to getting lazier about tidying up my desktop, allowing me to quickly sweep all of my files under the rug. But at least it makes it easy to find the stuff that I've hidden just out of sight.

Originally published on June 27, 2018. 
Update, Sept. 24: Added information about final release of MacOS Mojave.

For more, here's everything you need to know about MacOS Mojave.