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Five overlooked abilities of the Finder's Path Bar

Sharon Zardetto | May 7, 2013
What's the Path Bar? It's the quickest way to see where a file is in your file hierarchy, and it often provides the quickest way to move the file, too. Here are five tips for taking advantage of this overlooked tool.

When you're working in a deeply nested folder (a folder within a folder within&), the Finder provides several options for moving back up through the hierarchy. But only one provides both at-a-glance info and powerful shortcuts for working with files: the Path Bar.

Open a Finder window (Finder > New Finder Window) and then choose View > Show Path Bar. The Path Bar appears at the bottom of all your Finder windows, showing the complete path from your computer to the current folder. (A path  is the series of subfolders that leads to a specific folder or file.)

This is the only way you can see a folders path when a Finder window is in the background, but thats merely the most obvious of the conveniences the Path Bar provides.

1. Access folders in the path

Double-click a folder in the Path Bar (at the bottom of a Finder window) to see its contents in the current window.

Is the path too long for its folder names to show? Just point -- no clicking necessary-- to a truncated name, and it expands so you can read it. This point-and-expand works even on background windows, whether youre in the Finder or in another app. Double-click a folder in the Path Bar to see its contents in the current window. Or, open a folder into a separate window with a Command-double-click on its miniature in the Path Bar.

2. Drag a file or folder into the Path Bar to move it

Save a lot of window-juggling and folder-opening by dragging things directly into Path Bar folders. Notice a document or folder in the current window that should have been elsewhere in the hierarchy? Just move it into the appropriate folder in the Path Bar (something you cant do with the Path menu available from a Command-click on the windows title!). You can even drag something from one window into another windows path bar; just hover over the target folder a moment so that the window youre dragging to becomes active.

3. Drag a folder out of the Path Bar to move it

You can manipulate the folder icons in the Path Bar in many of the same ways you work with folders in windows.

Drag a Path Bar folder into any other folder or window, or onto the Desktop. You can even hold down Option as you drag to make a copy of the folder, or Command-Option to make an alias. Want to access one of those Path Bar folders frequently? Drag it into the sidebar. As with standard folder icons, if you drop a Path Bar folder in the wrong place, use Edit > Undo Move (Command-Z) to put it back. Or, if you change your mind while youre dragging the folder (when making an alias or copy, for example), press Esc to cancel the operation, and the drag ghost disappears from the arrow cursor.


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