Basics of the Toolbar in OS X Mavericks - dummies

Basics of the Toolbar in OS X Mavericks

By Bob LeVitus

In case you didn’t know, the OS X Mavericks toolbar is the thick gray band right below the title bar. On it are tools and buttons that let you navigate quickly and act on selected icons. To activate a toolbar button, click it once.

You say you don’t want to see the toolbar at the top of the window? Okay! Just choose View→Hide Toolbar or use its keyboard shortcut (Command+Option+T), and it’s gone. (If only life were always so easy!) Want it back? Choose View→Show Toolbar or use the same keyboard shortcut: Command+Option+T.

When you hide the toolbar, you’ll find that when you open folders, they spawn a new Finder window. The default, which is probably what you’re used to, is to open folders “in place,” displaying their contents in the current window.

If you’ve customized your toolbar by choosing View→Customize Toolbar, it will look different than the default toolbar, shown below


Here is the lowdown on the toolbar’s default buttons, from left to right:

  • Forward and Back buttons: Clicking the Forward and Back buttons displays the folders that you’ve viewed in this window in sequential order. If you’ve used a web browser, it’s a lot like that.

    Here’s an example of how the Back button works. Say you’re in your Home folder; you click the Favorites button, and a split-second later, you realize that you actually need something in the Home folder. Just a quick click of the Back button and — poof! — you’re back Home.

    As for the Forward button, well, it moves you in the opposite direction, through folders that you’ve visited in this window. Play around with them both; you’ll find them invaluable. The keyboard shortcuts Command+[ for Back and Command+] for Forward are even more useful than the buttons.

  • View buttons: The four view buttons change the way that the window displays its contents.

    You have four ways to view a window: Column, Icon, List, and Cover Flow. Some people like columns, some like icons, and others love lists or flows. To each her own. Play with the four Finder views to see which one works best for you

    Don’t forget that each view also has a handy keyboard shortcut: Command+1 for Icon view, Command+2 for List view, Command+3 for Column view, and Command+4 for Cover Flow view.

  • Arrange: Click this button to see a pop-up menu with options for displaying this window’s contents, which also shows the View menu’s Arrange By submenu, which unlike the pop-up version, includes keyboard shortcuts.


    Currently, Date Last Opened is selected, and the Documents folder reflects that choice. Although you can sort items by Date Last Opened in List view, using the Arrange menu works for all four views and offers keyboard shortcuts (look in the View menu) to boot.

  • Action: Click this button to see a pop-up menu of all the context-sensitive actions you can perform on selected icons.


    If you see angle brackets (>>) at the right edge of the toolbar, at least one toolbar item is not visible (the Search box). Click the angle brackets to select a hidden item, or expand the window enough to make the angle brackets disappear.

  • Share: Click here to share the selected items with others. A pop-up menu lets you choose to share via Mail, Messages, or AirDrop for all files and folders, with Twitter and Flickr also appearing if the selected item happens to be an image (.jpeg, .jpg, .tiff, .tif, .png, and so on).

  • Tags: Click here to assign one or more colored tags to selected items.

  • Search: The toolbar’s Search box is a nifty way to search for files or folders. Just type a word (or even just a few letters), and in a few seconds, the window fills with a list of files that match. You can also start a search by choosing File→Find (shortcut: Command+F.