Make the Finder Sidebar in Mountain Lion match your needs


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.

Quick Start

  1. Change the size of the Sidebar icons in the General section of System Preferences.
  2. Change which items appear in the Sidebar in the Finder Preferences Sidebar section.
  3. Show or hide portions of the Finder Sidebar on the fly by hovering over a heading to reveal the Show / Hide link.
  4. Drag folders in to the Sidebar to add them.
  5. Command drag folders to remove them from the Sidebar.

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The Finder Sidebar gives quick access to folders and devices

A Finder window with the Sidebar on the left.

A Finder window with the Sidebar on the left.

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 Hide Sidebar.

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.

Change the Sidebar icon size in System Preferences.

Change the Sidebar icon size in 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.

The sidebar section of Finder Preferences.

The sidebar section of Finder Preferences.

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 Favorites or Shared. Notice that the word Hide appears next to the heading.

Click 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 Open command.

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:

  1. Show the Finder Toolbar, Sidebar and Status Bar (February 2009).
  2. How to Set Finder Labels and Sidebar Preferences (with video, September 2009).

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One Comment;

  1. Brian said:

    Add XtraFinder to it and get colour added to the icons in the Toolbar.

Comments are closed.

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