Apps Mac MacBook Software

App icon frozen on a Mac desktop. How do I remove it?

stuck app icon on mac desktop
We have the anti-freeze for your frozen icons.

If you have an app icon frozen on a Mac desktop, then join the club. It takes just one slight fumbled click with the mouse and wham, there it sits. If you’ve spent hours peeking around one to avoid restarting your machine, then I have a foolproof solution – no restarts required. Obviously it’s not as simple as Microsoft’s refresh desktop option, but that’s Apple for you.

How does an App icon become frozen on a Mac desktop?

Most commonly it happens when users attempt to start an app from Launchpad. There is no official reason why it happens, but it’s certainly a known and frustrating phenomenon. Personally, I find it happens when I introduce a lateral movement with the mouse, just as I tap the button to launch. It seems rather easy to confuse macOS by attempting to launch and drag at the same time. As it was accidental, the drag never completes, and the result is that the app icon becomes frozen on the Mac’s desktop.

Quick fix for frozen Mac App icons

Here’s a quick one to try first. Simple go back to Launchpad, find the App icon that is frozen on your Mac’s desktop, then click and drag it. When you release the mouse button, the frozen icon should have cleared. If that doesn’t work, the next fix will nail it.

(Almost) guaranteed fix from frozen app icons on Mac desktops

As I said, you don’t need to close apps or save work, this fix is won’t disrupt your workflow.


From Finder, select Go, then Utilities and then Terminal.


Into the Terminal window, type the following command:

killall Dock

Then press enter on the keyboard.

The desktop of your Mac will flicker for a moment – don’t panic – and then the icon will be gone.

A couple of simple fixes for those of you who are clumsy clickers, like me.

How do I use the F keys on a Mac?

About the author

Lee Grant

I can normally be found attacking things with screwdrivers in my small computer repair business or writing a column for PC Pro magazine.

I am also trying to solve a mystery involving David Bowie.

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