Make the Finder Sidebar in Mountain Lion match your needs
Mac Tip #559, 07 November 2012
When you open a Finder window are the Sidebar icons too small or too big? Are you sick of seeing the Shared section? Tired of Air Drop, or Movies appearing in the list, even though you never use them? This Tip explains how to customise the Finder Sidebar in Mountain Lion: hide or show, add or remove items and change the icon size to match your preferences.
- Change the size of the Sidebar icons in the General section of System Preferences.
- Change which items appear in the Sidebar in the Finder Preferences Sidebar section.
- Show or hide portions of the Finder Sidebar on the fly by hovering over a heading to reveal the Show / Hide link.
- Drag folders in to the Sidebar to add them.
- Command drag folders to remove them from the Sidebar.
If this Tip was useful, please leave a comment letting us know. Want more detail? Read the full Tip below. And please, tell me what topics you’d like MacTips to cover.
The Finder Sidebar gives quick access to folders and devices
Open a Finder window and you should see a Sidebar on the left, as in my screenshot above. The Sidebar gives you quick access to folders and devices such as external hard drives.
Don’t see a Sidebar in your Finder windows? Go to the
View menu and make sure that both
Show Toolbar and
Show Sidebar have been enabled. If the
Toolbar is hidden the
Sidebar will also be hidden. If the
Toolbar is visible the
Sidebar may be either hidden or visible. Note: when the Toolbar and Sidebar are enabled the menu items will read
Hide Toolbar or
Click once on an item in the Sidebar to open that item.
Sidebar icons too small or too large?
Change the size of the Sidebar icons in the
General section of System Preferences.
Depending on your eyesight, the number of items in the Sidebar and the resolution of your screen, you may prefer the icons to be Small, Medium or Large.
If you regularly move files into a Folder by dropping them on a Sidebar icon you may find a larger target works better for you.
If you do routinely drop files onto folders, whether in the Sidebar or not, check the Finder Preferences
General section (
Spring-loaded folders and windows) to control how quickly or slowly a folder opens if you hover over it while dragging and dropping files.
Change which items appear in the Sidebar
There may be items in the Sidebar you never use and don’t want to see. Or perhaps there are items you expect to see but don’t. To change which items appear in the Finder Sidebar go to the
Finder menu and choose
Preferences…. The Preferences window opens.
Click on the
Sidebar item in the Toolbar and then check or uncheck the items to match your preferences.
For example, my new MacBook Pro with Retina display doesn’t have a DVD drive, so I’ve unchecked the item
CDs, DVDs, and iPods, although the screenshot doesn’t show that.
If you have a Finder window open while you make your selections you’ll see the changes instantly reflected in the Sidebar.
Make a temporary change in the Sidebar
In many parts of Mountain Lion elements are hidden away waiting for you to discover them. One of these hidden elements is the choice to show or hide portions of the Finder Sidebar on the fly.
Hover your cursor over one of the Sidebar headings, such as
Shared. Notice that the word
Hide appears next to the heading.
Hide to hide everything listed below that heading.
If items are hidden then the word
Show appears next to the heading when you hover over it. Click
Show to reveal the hidden items again.
Add items to the Sidebar
To add a folder to the Sidebar list drag the folder onto the Sidebar in the Favorites section. The folder itself doesn’t move from its original location, but now you can access it quickly, even in Dialog boxes, such as for the
Remove a folder from the Sidebar
To remove items from the Sidebar first look at Finder Preferences, as described above. Or, hold down the
Command (⌘) key and drag a folder out of the Sidebar and release it. It disappears in a puff of smoke. The actual folder remains safe in its original location, it now simply no longer appears in the Sidebar.
Other older related Tips
You may like to read these other MacTips: