The Mac OS X Mountain Lion Toolbar - dummies

The Mac OS X Mountain Lion Toolbar

In addition to the Sidebar and some good old-fashioned double-clicking, the OS X Mountain Lion Finder window offers navigation aids. Several of these are on the toolbar — namely, the Back and Forward buttons, as well as the extra-helpful view buttons.

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.


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 (cmd+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: cmd+Option+T.

Alas, hiding the toolbar also hides the useful Sidebar and status bar. If only you could choose to hide them independently. . . . To make matters worse, Mountain Lion has a new menu item — View→Hide Sidebar (shortcut: cmd+Option+S) — that lets you hide the Sidebar without hiding the toolbar.

For some unfathomable reason, you can’t do the opposite and hide the toolbar while keeping the Sidebar visible! No, instead, if you choose View→Hide Toolbar (shortcut cmd+Option+T), the Sidebar disappears along with the toolbar (and the status bar jumps to the top of the window). Boo. Hiss.

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).

So here’s 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.

  • 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.

  • 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, one or more Toolbar items is not visible. Click the angle brackets to select a hidden item or expand the window enough to make the angle brackets disappear.

  • 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 sub-menu, which unlike the pop-up version, includes keyboard shortcuts.


  • 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.

  • 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: cmd+F).