We’ve long known how to customize the toolbar in Mac OS X’s Finder windows — but recently a client demonstrated a great example why we should.

Try adding aliases of your most frequently used applications to the toolbar at the top of your Finder windows. It’s like having a tiny version of the dock hovering just above your files. This allows you to quickly drag documents onto the program you want to open them in. For example, open screenshots in Photoshop instead of Preview, or Quark files in InDesign instead of QuarkXPress.

In our example we’ve removed a few of the default items from the Finder window, rearranged the order, and added aliases for InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat and Word.

There are a couple ways you can adjust the default Finder window.

Option 1: The Quick Way…

The quickest way to rearrange your Finder toolbar is to hold down the Command key (&#8984) and drag a toolbar item to a new location, or drag it out of the toolbar to remove it.

To drag an application alias to the toolbar, hold down the Command key and drag your applications up one at a time. It works much like adding icons to your dock, the other items will slide out of the way, and a small green plus sign will appear on your cursor.


Tip: Choose between displaying small or large icons in the toolbar, hold down the Control key and click in the toolbar area. A pop-up menu will give options on wether to display icons or text, as well as allowing you to choose “use small size.”

Option 2: The Detailed Method…

In the Finder, choose View > Customize Toolbar.


To add an icon, drag it to the toolbar at the top of the window.

To remove an icon, drag it out of the toolbar.

To arrange the icons, drag them into the order you prefer.

To use the default toolbar, drag it to the window’s toolbar.

To add an application alias, open a second window in the Finder, and drag your application’s icon to this toolbar.

In the Show section, you can customize the size of toolbar items and how they are displayed.