How To Customize The Mac Finder Sidebar

How To Customize The Mac Finder Sidebar


Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Let me show you all the different ways you
can customize your Finder’s sidebar and make it more useful. MacMost is brought to you thanks to an incredible
group of supporters. Join us and get exclusive content at MacMost.com/patreon. So while we like to customize our Macs one
item that gets overlooked all the time is the Finder sidebar. It appears in every Finder window. You can customize this to show the items that
you actually use and add more items there as well. It actually has a lot of functionality so
let’s take a look. So here’s the Finder sidebar. It appears on the left side of every Finder
window. Now it changes a bit with each release of
Mac OS. We’re looking at it here in Mojave. The basic ideas are always the same though. You’ve got different sections here. In this case Favorites, then iCloud, Location,
and Tags. Each section could be hidden or shown. You see if I move my cursor over the section
I can hit the Hide button or the Show button. If you’re missing something, like Location
just seems empty, just move your cursor it, hit Show, and it will reveal everything there. There are some items that are there by default. Things like AirDrop, Applications, Downloads,
etc. You can change which ones are there by simply
going to Finder Preferences and then go to Sidebar. In there you’ve got a list of checkboxes. If you don’t really care about having the
Applications folder listed there you can get rid of that. You can get rid of things you don’t access
all the time. Maybe get rid of Music, for instance. You can do that for all the different sections
here. So there’s nothing particularly special about
these because, as you can see in a minute, we can add our own items. For instance, if I wanted to add a folder
here I could drag any folder from any Finder window. So I have a folder here called My Home Documents. I can drag that over here. You can see I can place it here under Favorites. So I’ll stick it right here. You can see I have a few other folders already
there. Clicking on that will take me directly to
that folder. Also, I can drag and drop into that folder. So if there’s a file I want to put in there
I can drag and drop it into the Finder sidebar and it will move it in there. I don’t have to actually go to the folder
in order to move it. You can rearrange things in your Favorites
here by dragging and dropping and put them in any order you want. So arrange these in the order that makes sense
for you. You can only drag folders in here so it doesn’t
work if you drag a file or an application or something. Now I can add other iCloud Drive folders under
iCloud. So if I wanted to put the TextEdit iCloud
Drive folder there under iCloud I can. By the way if I want to remove any of these
things I just drag over until I see an X appear with my cursor. That will simply remove it from the sidebar. Now notice if I go to my local file, so this
is in my User folder not iCloud Drive, I can add these folders here under Favorites. I can’t add them to iCloud because these aren’t
iCloud locations. If you wanted to simplify things and get rid
of the iCloud section here I could drag iCloud up here into my Favorites section and the
same with folders in there as well. Then under Finder Preferences I could actually
disable all the items under iCloud and you can see the entire section goes away. Now Locations is a place typically where you’ll
see drives. So if you look in Preferences here you can
see you’ve got your main computer level here. You’ve got Hard disks, meaning internal hard
drives, External Hard Drives, CDs, DVDs, and iPods. In Catalina this changes to CDs, DVDs, and
iOS devices. This checkbox here, which really isn’t that
important, suddenly becomes very important because it is how you will see an attached
iPhone or iPad in the Finder so you can sync it or change some of its settings. These are types of servers that can be connected
on your local network. The last section is Tags. Tags are something that some of you do not
use that much. But you can tag a file a number of ways. I could select it and use the tag button here
inside of the Finder Toolbar. I can create a tag just by typing it. I can click to select a tag so I can tag this
purple. You can see here I get the little purple dot
saying that’s one of the tags applied. You can apply more than one tag to a file. They’re very useful. Then if I click on one of these I will see
all of the files that have that tag. So in this case, under Personal, I actually
have three files spread across different folders in my hard drive that have the personal tag. Also you can apply tags to something. If I wanted to apply, say, the travel tag
to this I can actually drag and drop it here. It doesn’t move it anywhere. It simply applies that tag. You can see that tag is now applied. I can click on Travel and see now it’s one
of those tags. So these are kind of like smart folders that
just list files that have that tag applied. You can click on All Tags here and it will
show all the different tags and you can select it and see all the different items in that
tag. So it’s kind of a little tag browser that
you can use. In Finder Preferences, in addition to sidebar,
I’ve got a section for Tags. I can checkoff which ones will be shown in
the sidebar here. So I can select the tags that I use the most. Also under Sidebar the last item here is Recent
Tags. If that is checked Recent Tags will automatically
appear in there. That’s why you see some of these with the
little dash there meaning they are there, but they are only there because they are recent. If I were to check them that means they will
stay there permanently even if I haven’t used them recently. Now one thing that people like to do with
the sidebar, in addition to adding regular folders, is to add Smart folders. So I can create a new Smart folder by going
to File, New Smart Folder in the Finder and I can create it maybe looking for every file
that has a name with the word test in it. I can hit Save. Then I can call this Test Files and it will
be under Saved Searches. There is a checkbox here for Add To Sidebar
and it will automatically add it there. So I hit Save. Now I can see in the Finder Sidebar there’s
Test Files. The great thing about Smart folders is they
update automatically. So if I create a new file that has the name
test it will automatically appear in here. I don’t have to reapply the search in anyway. You can also drag and drop any Smart folders
that you have into the sidebar as well and drag them out to get rid of them. So as you can see there are tons of ways that
you can make the Finder sidebar more useful to you. At the very least you should add the folders
that you use most often to the Favorites section there so you can easily drag and drop folders
and click on them to jump right to that folder’s location.