Navigating the Mac OS X Lion Finder Toolbar - dummies

Navigating the Mac OS X Lion Finder Toolbar

By Bob LeVitus

The Mac OS X Lion Finder window offers navigation aids. Several of these are on the toolbar — namely, the Back and Forward buttons. You can find other handy features on the OS X Lion Go menu.

The toolbar, in case you didn’t know, 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.

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.

Want it back? Choose View→Show Toolbar or use the same keyboard shortcut: Command+Option+T.

When the toolbar is hidden, opening a folder opens a new Finder window rather than reusing the current one (which is what happens when the toolbar is showing unless you’ve changed this preference in Finder preferences or are using Column view).

Here is an overview of the toolbar’s default buttons:


  • Forward and Back buttons: Clicking the Forward and Back buttons displays the folders that you’ve viewed in this window in sequential order. This is similar to the Forward and Back buttons on a web browser.

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

  • Arrange: Click this button to see a pop-up menu with options for displaying this window’s contents.


    Though available in the View menu of earlier versions of Mac OS X, it’s new as a toolbar feature in Lion, and it’s a winner. While you can sort items by Date Last Opened in List view, using the Arrange menu works for all four views and has keyboard shortcuts to boot.

  • Quick Look: Clicking this button displays the contents of the currently selected file in a floating window without launching an application.

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


  • 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 after 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).