2 ways to make Finder more useful on the Apple Mac

MacBook and coffee

Start an Apple Mac and when you get to the desktop, that’s Finder. It is more than the desktop though and it enables you to open windows to explore the disk contents. A finder window has a toolbar at the top that contains some useful functions and a sidebar on the left with folders and views. There are two ways to make Finder windows more useful and you can customise both the sidebar and the toolbar.

In this article I am not going to look at the obvious ways to customise the toolbar and the sidebar and instead, I will look at a non-obvious way. A method you probably don’t know about.

Open a Finder window and navigate to the Applications folder on the disk drive. A quick way to open new Finder windows is by holding down the Command key and pressing N. (If other windows are open on the desktop, click the desktop first or you might get a new document in whatever app you are using.)

Find your most used application or utility, hold down the Command key and drag it to the Finder toolbar, then drop it in an empty space. The space between the last toolbar icon and the search box is best.

Customise Finder's toolbar

You will find that the app is added to the toolbar and its icon appears. It is even in colour, which makes it look a bit odd when all the other icons are monochrome, but at least it stands out. You can Command+click and drag more apps from the Applications folder and drop them on to the toolbar and build up a collection of your favourite items.

Add apps to Finder's toolbar

It is not worth putting the same apps here as you have in the Dock at the bottom of the screen, so if your favourites are in the Dock, put your dsecond best favourites in Finder's toolbar, or put apps here that you would use when Finder windows are open. The Dock can only hold so many icons, so if it is overcrowded you could put some icons in the Finder toolbar. Perhaps something like Disk Utility or Activity Monitor.

Another way to customise Finder Windows is to add items to the sidebar on the left of the window. The same technique can be used and you hold down the Command key, then click and drag an app from the Applications folder to the sidebar. A line indicates where it will be inserted and you can choose its position.

Customise Finder's sidebar

It can be useful to add tools here, although you should choose different apps to the ones you add to the toolbar or the Dock. You don’t need to have them in two or three places. If you drop the apps in the wrong place, they can be clicked and dragged to a new position in the sidebar to rearrange them.

Add items to Finder's sidebar

Here I have added two useful utilities to the Favorites section of the Sidebar. It saves hunting for them in the Applications folder and they are just one click away.

The changes made to the sidebar and toolbar can easily be undone and they are not permanent. Click and drag items off the sidebar and drop them on the desktop. They disappear in a cloud of smoke. To remove the toolbar apps, hold down the Command key as you click and drag the icons off the toolbar and drop them on the desktop.

This feature is not just for apps and you can drag your favourite folders to the sidebar or the toolbar and drop them to add them. You could add key folders to the toolbar and then in the View menu, hide the sidebar to leave a cleaner Finder window with no distractions on the left.

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