Know Exactly Where You Are – Mac Kung Fu, 2nd Edition

Tip 123Know Exactly Where You Are

There are a variety of ways of seeing at a glance where you are in Finder, as follows.

Using a Better Path Bar

Finder can show the path to the currently browsed folder (that is, something like Macintosh HDUsersJohnMusicMP3 collection). Just click ViewShow Path Bar. However, there’s a slight problem—the path is listed from the root of the hard disk up to the current directory. If all you ever do is browse your home directory, then this information isn’t much use, and the display can get bunched up very quickly. Luckily, there’s a secret setting you can use to cause the path bar to relate everything it shows to your home folder. In other words, should you browse your Pictures folder, the path bar will read something like JohnPictures, rather than Macintosh HDUsersJohnPictures.

Open a Terminal window (open Finder, select the Applications list, and then in the list of applications double-click Terminal within the Utilities folder), and type the following:

 
defaults write com.apple.finder PathBarRootAtHome -bool TRUE;killall Finder

The changes will take effect immediately. See Figure 20, Improving the Finder path bar: before and after. Should you want later to revert to the default path bar, open a Terminal window, and type the following:

 
defaults delete com.apple.finder PathBarRootAtHome;killall Finder

Figure 20. Improving the Finder path bar: before and after

Bonus tip: Files can be dragged and dropped onto any entry within the path bar to move the file to that location (hold Option before releasing the mouse button to copy the file instead, or hold Option+Command to create an alias).

Show Full Paths in the Title Bar of Finder

By default the title bar of every Finder window displays the name of the current folder you’re browsing or its current mode (that is, if you’re using AirDrop, for example). To switch it to show the full path of the directory (that is, /Users/keir/Documents rather than just Documents), open a Terminal window (open Finder, select the Applications list, and then in the list of applications double-click Terminal within the Utilities folder), and type the following:

 
defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool TRUE; killall
 
Finder

Bear in mind that if you switch to the All My Files view in Finder, you’ll see a long path pointing toward /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app. This is simply where the All My Files function is stored and can be ignored.

To revert to showing just the folder name, open a Terminal window, and type the following:

 
defaults delete com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle;killall Finder