Archived Post

Why haven’t you customized your Mac OS X Toolbar?

I’m teaching a class on Mac basics at University of Texas Informal Classes and It freaks me out that not a single one of my students knew you could customize the Toolbar and Sidebar. And that’s a shame since they’re two powerful features that have been around since time immemorial and are common to all Finder windows in all versions of OS X.

On Making Your Toolbar Work Smarter

You probably know that in the Finder, you can choose View–>Customize Toolbar to add or remove items from the Toolbar. And, if you didn’t, you do now:


What you probably don’t know is that you can also add any folder or file to your Toolbar by holding down the Command key and dragging the item onto the Toolbar.

In the figure above, I’ve added the Dropbox, Work, and Desktop NOT folders to my Toolbar, making it easy for me to drag files or folders onto any of them or open ’em in their own tab with a single click.

The Command key is also the key (haha) to several other useful Toolbar tricks. For one, you may know that you can rearrange items on the toolbar as long as the Customize Toolbar sheet is open… But it’s often faster to just press Command and rearrange your Toolbar icons without involving the Customize Toolbar sheet.

The Command key is also the key (haha again) to removing items you don’t want in the Toolbar anymore. To get rid of an item in the Toolbar, press Command and drag the icon off the Toolbar; when you release the mouse button, the item will disappear with a satisfying “poof.” Or, you can invokie the Customize Toolbar sheet and drag them off without the Command key, but what fun is that?

Here’s one final Toolbar tip before we move on: If you often forget what your Toolbar icons mean, choose Icon and Text from the pop-up Show menu in the lower left corner of the Customize Toolbar sheet. This will display the item’s name below its icon, as shown in the previous figure. Or, hover the pointer over any item in the Toolbar for a few seconds and its description appears as a tool tip (Perform tasks with the selected items in the figure below):


One last thing: If you try to drag a file or folder to the Toolbar and it won’t stick, chances are you’re trying to drag an alias. You can’t do that. Instead, find the original file by clicking on the alias and choosing File–>Show Original (or Command + R) and then dragging the original file onto the Toolbar.

This nugget of info is from my “Working Smarter for Mac Users” newsletter.  You can sign up for free and get free timesaving tips, and more, every week.

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Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the founder and former publisher of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!