Mac Productivity

5 Simple Finder Shortcuts to Quickly Access Your Data Anywhere

Akshata Shanbhag 24-12-2018

You can access your Finder files and folders in a variety of ways, but there are a few methods that will fetch you quicker results. One of them involves creating shortcuts or using existing ones to access your most-used Finder data.


Let’s take a look at five types of shortcuts you can use to navigate Finder faster.

1. Sidebar Shortcuts


No matter where you are in Finder, you can jump to important locations in a single click—if you’ve pinned a shortcut to them in the sidebar.

To create a shortcut to a folder’s contents, drag that folder from its original location in Finder to the Favorites section of the sidebar. For a standard Finder location such as Home or iCloud Drive, you can enable its sidebar bookmark via File > Preferences > Sidebar too.

You can also add sidebar shortcuts for files and apps, but only if you hold down the Cmd key while dragging and dropping the items onto the sidebar. Without the modifier key, you’ll end up moving the items to the sidebar folder onto which you drop them.


Finder tags also get their own shortcut section in the sidebar. These color-coded labels can help you find files faster Find Files Faster and Organize Your Mac With Finder Tags Finder tags are a great way to organize data -- here's how to make the most of this handy organization tool on your Mac today. Read More . If you can’t see a particular tag or the Tags section itself, you can make both visible from Finder > Preferences > Tags.

2. Toolbar Shortcuts


Toolbar shortcuts are another easy way to keep your favorite files, folders, apps, and tags in sight. They come in handy when you have a particular PDF, calendar, filter, voice dictation app, or infograph you need to bring up often.

To create a toolbar shortcut, hold down the Cmd key and drag the relevant Finder item to the toolbar. Release when you see a green plus mark appear next to the cursor.


We recommend assigning unique custom icons to files and folders to make their shortcuts easy to spot in the toolbar. Apps already have distinguishable icons, so you can leave those alone.

Since it’s so easy to create shortcuts in Finder, you might go overboard with them and end up with a cluttered, unusable toolbar. How about saving toolbar shortcuts only for your most favorite items and using aliases for the rest?

3. Finder Aliases


In computer speak, a shortcut usually points to a specific item in a specific location. When you move the item to a different location, the shortcut no longer works. That’s not the case if the shortcut in question is an alias, which points to the linked item regardless of a change in the master folder’s location.


This allows you to create shortcuts or aliases to a single file (or folder) in multiple locations for easy access to the original file. Since aliases barely take up any space, you can feel free to make as many of them as you need. Aliases are a great way to reduce Finder clutter Reduce Finder Clutter and Mac Junk With Aliases, Tags, and More A thorough cleanup every now and then is necessary, but it can only take you so far. You need a good strategy for dodging clutter as well as clearing it. Read More .

To create an alias, select the Finder item you want an alias for and click on Make Alias from its context menu. The shortcut shows up in the same location as the original item. There’s a tiny arrow at the bottom-left of the alias icon to distinguish it as a shortcut. Feel free to rename the alias and move it elsewhere.

You can also create an alias for a file when you’re viewing it. All you have to do is drag the tiny icon before the file name in the title bar and drop it in a Finder location of your choice. If you hold down the Option key while performing this task, you’ll get a copy of the file instead of an alias.

Remember the toolbar shortcuts we discussed above? They’re also aliases, by the way. But since the toolbar can hold only so many shortcuts, we recommend that you use them sparingly.


4. Custom Finder Views


When you open Finder, it shows the Recents view, where you see your most recently accessed Finder data. How about replacing that view with your most-used data instead?

To begin with, create a new folder in a location of your choosing and:

  • Move your favorite files and folders there, or
  • Create aliases for them in the new folder. (Throw in aliases for your favorite apps as well.)

Next, it’s time to set this folder as the default view for new Finder windows. To do that, first open Finder > Preferences > General. Now click on the New Finder windows show dropdown menu, then choose Other. In the Finder dialog that opens, select the shortcut folder you created and click on the Choose button.

You can even add a shortcut to this new folder in the sidebar, the toolbar, and the Dock, to keep it accessible at all times.

5. Built-In Finder Shortcuts


The path bar at the bottom of the Finder window, right above the status bar, is another way to navigate to specific Finder locations quickly. It displays the hierarchy for a selected file or folder. Click on any location in the hierarchy and you can switch to it directly, bypassing other locations in between.

You can also Control-click the folder name in the title bar to view the file/folder hierarchy and skip to any location in it.


The Back button in the Finder toolbar is yet another shortcut. Click and hold the Back button to display the folder locations you’ve been to recently from that window. (The list begins with the most recent location.) You can now jump to relevant folder locations from this list.

If the Forward button shows as active, you can click and hold it to get a similar list of locations that you’ve gone through.


Take a Finder Shortcut on Mac

Finder shortcuts are a huge timesaver, but it takes a while to discover all their secrets. On that note, we have many more tiny but useful macOS features 18 Tiny but Useful macOS Features You'll Want to Know About macOS has many such small yet useful features that are easy to miss until you stumble upon them or someone points them out to you. Read More you’ll want to know about.

Related topics: File Management, Mac Tips, OS X Finder.

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