Finder in OS X is the default application for browsing your Mac’s files, but it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of the directory you’re navigating to, especially when dealing with complex hives of folders and files.
Longtime Mac users know that there is one way to view a map of your current location in Finder – namely, by enabling the Path Bar – but there is also another way, a hidden method that some users may like.
Activate Finder Path Bar
First, for those unfamiliar with Finder, the easiest way to see your current location in your Mac’s file structure is to activate the Path Bar in the Finder view options.
To do so, simply open a Finder window and go to View> Show Path Bar in the OS X menu bar.
Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Option-Command-P to quickly toggle the Finder Path Bar on or off.
Click ‘Show Path Bar’
Once activated, you will see a new bar appear at the bottom of your Finder window, showing the path of the currently active folder or directory. As you navigate through the different folders, this pathbar will be updated.
For example, in our screenshot below, we’re looking at an “Articles” folder, which is inside the “TekRevue” folder, which is inside the Dropbox public folder on our external Thunderbolt drive called “Data”.
By becoming familiar with the pathbars, you can quickly understand the relative locations of your various files and folders, as well as easily move files to locations higher up in the path chain. Again, for example, the Finder window in our screenshot has a text document called “Article Ideas” in the Articles subfolder. If we want to move the file to the main Dropbox folder immediately, we can simply drag and drop it in the “Dropbox” in the path bar.
Even though it’s disabled by default, we’ve personally found great usability in the Finder pathbar, and it’s one of the first things we enable when setting up a new Mac. But there is another option to show your current location in Finder which may be better depending on your experience and needs.
Show Path in Finder Title Bar
By default, the “title” of each Finder window is the name of the actively selected directory. In our example above, because we had navigated to Data> Dropbox> TekRevue> Articles, the title of our Finder window was “Articles”.
But there’s a hidden Terminal command that lets you show the full path in that title bar instead of just the active folder (very similar to how Apple now treats website addresses in Safari).
To activate it, launch Terminal.
Enter the following command (note: this command involves relaunching Finder, so even though you won’t lose any data, all open Finder windows will be closed, so make sure you note your current Finder location if you are actively working on a file-focused project ):
defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool true; killall Finder
As mentioned in the note above, all of your current Finder windows will be closed and the application will be launched again. However, this time, you’ll see the full path of your current folder in the title bar of each Finder window.
While it is very similar to the pathbar method above, it has several advantages. First, some users may prefer to have their Finder path at the top of the window, especially cross-platform users, because Windows File Explorer also displays the current path at the top of the window (if configured to do so).
This method also displays the path using the area present in the Finder title bar, whereas using the Path Bar method will use the data row visible at the bottom of the window when activated, which may be a bigger problem if you are stuck with a lower resolution display and need to. load as much Finder info on the screen as possible.
More importantly, however, this method displays the complete Unix path, including root directories such as Volume that are not shown in the standard Finder path bar. This can be useful when navigating unknown directories or systems, or if you are new to Unix-based operating systems.
For example, if you wanted to create or modify a Terminal command based on the path in our first example above, you might logically enter / Data / Dropbox / TekRevue / Articles, because that’s what is displayed in the Finder path bar. It’s only when you look at the full path in the Finder title bar that you realize you need to specify the “Volume” directory first.
Despite the utility, showing the full path in the Finder title bar can be a bit messy, especially for longer and more complicated paths. If you want to turn it off and return to showing active directory in the Finder title bar, go back to Terminal and use this command instead:
defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool false; killall Finde
Just like when you activated the first Terminal command, all of your Finder windows would close briefly and then Finder would relaunch, this time showing only the active directory in the title bar.
How to Copy and Paste Paths
Really! The process is simple enough for copying and pasting the current file paths on macOS. First, open Finder and highlight the files you want to browse.
Next, use the keyboard shortcut Command + I. An information window will appear. Highlight the path, click Command + C. To paste, just click Command + V.
You can also use the drag and drop method to find, copy and paste Paths. Open Finder, open Terminal, then select the files you want to browse. Drag the file to the terminal and the Path will be revealed. Highlight the text and use the Command + C controls to copy the Path.