Customize the Mac's Finder Toolbar

Make the Finder your own

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The Finder toolbar, a collection of icons and a search field located at the top of the Finder window on Mac computers, is easy to customize to meet your specific needs. ​While the default toolbar configuration works for most users, changing the toolbar by adding new commands or rearranging it to better suit your style can move the Finder toolbar from adequate to supercharged.

In addition to the Back, View, and Action options that are already present in the toolbar, you can add functions such as Eject, Burn, and Delete, as well as other actions that can make using the Finder much easier.

Information is this article applies to the following operating systems: macOS Catalina (10.15), macOS Mojave (10.14), macOS High Sierra (10.13), macOS Sierra (10.12), OS X El Capitan (10.11), OS X Yosemite (10.10), OS X Mavericks (10.9), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8), OS X Lion (10.7), OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) and OS X (10.5) Leopard, except as noted.

Add Items to the Finder Toolbar​

To customize your Finder toolbar:

  1. Open a Finder window on a Mac by clicking the Finder icon in the Dock.

    The Finder icon in the Mac Dock
  2. In the Finder menu bar, click View and select Customize Toolbar from the drop-down menu, or right-click in a blank area of the Finder toolbar and select Customize Toolbar from the pop-up menu.

    Path to selecting the Customize Toolbar option
  3. The screen that slides into view contains the options for customizing the Finder toolbar.

    Customize Finger toolbar option drop-down sheet


    Some of the most convenient functions to add to the toolbar are:

    • Path: Shows the current path to the folder you're viewing in the active Finder window.
    • New Folder: Lets you add a new folder to the folder you're currently viewing.
    • Get Info: Displays detailed information about a selected file or folder, such as where it's located on your drive, when it was created, and when it was last modified.
    • Eject: Ejects removable media, such as CDs and DVDs, from the optical drive.
    • Delete: Sends files or folders to the Trash.
  4. Click and drag an icon from the dialog sheet up to the Finder toolbar. Dragged icons can be positioned anywhere within the toolbar, with current icons moving over to make room for new ones you drag into place.

    Dragging a button up to the Finder toolbar
  5. Click Done when you finish adding items to the toolbar.

    A customized Finder toolbar

Space, Flexible Space, and Separators

You may have noticed a few unusual items in the dialog sheet for customizing the Finder toolbar: Space, Flexible Space, and depending on the version of the Mac OS you are using, Separator. These items can add a bit of polish to the Finder toolbar by helping you organize it.

  • Space: Adds a fixed-size space, approximately the size of a single toolbar icon, to the toolbar. You can use a space to give Finder toolbar items a little breathing room.
  • Flexible Space: Produces a space that is variable in size. As the size of the Finder window changes, the flexible space size changes, but it never becomes smaller than the standard (default) space item.
  • Separator: Adds a visual vertical line to help separate toolbar icons. A good use of a Separator is to help define a group of related toolbar icons. Can't find the separator item? Apple removed it from the toolbar options starting with OS X Lion. That's too bad; it was a useful feature. You can use the Flexible Space to perform a function that's similar to the Separator, just not as elegant.

Remove Toolbar Icons

After you add icons to the Finder toolbar, you may decide it's too cluttered. It's as easy to remove items as it is to add them.

  1. Open a Finder window by clicking the Finder icon in the Dock.

  2. Select Customize Toolbar from the View menu.

  3. Click and drag the unwanted icon away from the toolbar. It disappears in a puff of smoke.

Default Toolbar Set

Want to return to the default set of toolbar icons? That's an easy job as well. You'll find a complete set of default toolbar icons near the bottom of the Customize Toolbar window. When you drag the default set of icons onto the toolbar, they move as a complete set; no need to drag one item at a time.

The drop-down screen for customizing the Finder toolbar

Toolbar Display Options

Besides being able to pick which tool icons are present in the Finder toolbar, you can also select how they're displayed. The choices are:

  • Icon and Text
  • Icon only
  • Text only

Use the Show drop-down menu to make your selection. You can try each one and then settle on the one you like best. The Icon and Text option is great, but if you prefer a bit more elbow room in your Finder windows, you can try the Text only or Icon only options.

When you finish making changes, click Done.