Show Long File & Folder Names on the Mac OS X Desktop
Recently we covered how to show full file names on the Mac OS X desktop, avoiding the abbreviated labels that occur when a file or folders name is too large to fit in the allowed character count limit. That trick was done by increasing the desktops grid size, but as one of our readers pointed out in the comments, you are still limited to a maximum of 20 characters in a file name. Using a defaults write command, this can be adjusted to display very long file names without shortening them. As you may have guessed, this is achieved by increasing the desktops grid size even further.
Increase the File Name Displayed Character Limit in Mac OS X
The displayed character limit can be increased to virtually any number, for the purpose of this tip we’ll increase the file names character limit from 20 to 50.
Launch the Terminal from /Applications/Utilities/ and enter the following command.
defaults write com.apple.finder FXDesktopLayoutGridCharCount 50; killall Finder
Entering this command will change the count and immediately restart the Finder so changes take place. If you want fewer or more characters, adjust the number on the end accordingly. The screenshot at the top of this post shows a 100 character limit, but too large a number can look strange, making 50 a good compromise for showing long file names and not making a disaster of the desktop.
Restore the Default File Name Character Limit
defaults write com.apple.finder FXDesktopLayoutGridCharCount 20; killall Finder
Using the above command, the Finder will also restart and the desktops file name limit will be restored to the default setting of 20 characters.
Thanks to Brah for the great tip left in our comments
Update: Additional testing and user feedback suggests the defaults write trick may work in Mac OS X 10.6 only. For OS X 10.7 Lion users, increasing grid space works to the same effect but doesn’t require Terminal intervention.