The Finder Toolbar: Add Files, Folders, and Apps

The finder toolbar can hold more than tools

Folder icon set for file and documents. Vector illustration

Victor Metelskiy / Getty Images

When OS X first released, the Finder gained a handy toolbar located across the top of the Mac’s Finder window. The Finder toolbar is usually populated with a collection of useful tools, such as the forward and back arrows, view buttons for changing how the Finder window displays data, and other goodies.

You probably know that you can customize the Finder toolbar by adding tools from a palette of options. But you may not know that you can also easily customize the Finder toolbar with items that aren’t included in the built-in palette. With drag-and-drop simplicity, you can add applications, files, and folders to the toolbar, and give yourself easy access to your most commonly used programs, folders, and files.

Instructions in this article apply to Mac OS X 10.0 and later.

How to Add Applications to the Finder Toolbar

You can move any application on your computer to the toolbar for one-click access. Here's how to do it.

Along with applications, you can also add files and folders to the toolbar using this process.

  1. Start by opening a Finder window. A quick way to do this is to click the Finder icon in the Dock.

    Finder icon in macOS Dock
  2. Use the Finder window to navigate to the item you want to add to the toolbar. For example, to add TextEdit, click the Applications folder in the Finder sidebar, and then locate TextEdit.

    TextEdit in the Applications folder
  3. Hold down the option + command keys, and then drag the item to the toolbar.

    In Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and earlier, drag the application to the toolbar and release it when a green plus sign appears.

    Dragging an application to the macOS toolbar
  4. Release the mouse button to drop the application. Its icon will appear in the toolbar.

    An application icon in the macOS toolbar

How to Rearrange the Toolbar

If you drop an item into the wrong location on the toolbar, you can rearrange things quickly.

  1. Right-click any blank spot in the toolbar to open the options menu.

  2. Select Customize Toolbar.

    Customize Toolbar option in macOS Finder
  3. Drag the misplaced icon in the toolbar to a new location.

    Moving an application in the toolbar
  4. When you’re satisfied with the way the toolbar icons are arranged, click the Done button.

Removing Finder Toolbar Items You Added

At some point, you may decide you no longer need an application, file, or folder to be present in the Finder’s toolbar. You may have moved on to a different app, or you're no longer working actively with the project folder you added a few weeks ago.

To remove an item, drag it out of the Finder toolbar while holding down Command. Release the mouse button, and the alias will disappear.

How to Add an Automator Script to the Finder Toolbar

You can use Automator to create custom apps built on scripts that you create. Since the Finder sees Automator apps as applications, you can add them to the toolbar just like any other app.

Once you finish the script, save the app, and then use the method outlined in this article to drag it to your Finder toolbar.