How to Enable and Use the Hidden Finder Path Bar

Try this handy shortcut for working with files and folders

The Mac's Finder has many features that make navigating through your files an easy process, but some of these features, such as the Finder's Path Bar, are turned off or hidden. It doesn't take long to enable the Path Bar so that you can take advantage of it.

The Finder's Path Bar

Curves Ahead Road Sign
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With the release of OS X 10.5, Apple added a new feature to Finder windows: the Path Bar. The Finder Path Bar is a small pane located at the bottom of a Finder window, just below where files and folders are listed.

As its name implies, the Path Bar shows you the path from the folder you're currently viewing to the top of the file system. To put it another way, it shows you the path you created when you clicked through the Finder to get to the current folder.

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.

Enable the Finder Path Bar

The Finder Path Bar is disabled by default, but it only takes a few seconds to enable it.

  1. Start by opening a Finder window on your Mac. An easy way to do this is to click the Finder icon in the Dock.

    The Finder icon in the Mac Dock
  2. With a Finder window open, select Show Path Bar from the View menu.

    Path to menu for Show Path in Finder
  3. The Path Bar now displays at the bottom of all your Finder windows showing the path to any file or folder you choose.

    Path Bar at bottom of Finder window

Disable the Finder Path Bar

If you decide you prefer the more minimalistic Finder window, you can turn the Path Bar off just as quickly as you turned it on.

  1. Open a Finder window.

  2. Select Hide Path Bar from the View menu.

    Path to Hide Path Bar in Finder

The Path Bar disappears.

Using the Finder's Path Bar

In addition to its obvious use as a road map showing where you've been and how you got from there to here, the Path Bar also serves other handy functions.

  • Double-click any of the folders in the Path Bar to go to that folder.
  • Move files and folders to any item in the Path Bar by dragging and dropping them. Copy items by holding down the Option key as you drag them, or create an alias to an item by holding down the Command + Option keys while you drag.
  • Move folders around within the Path Bar. This is handy if you accidentally create a folder at the wrong level, and it would be better if it moved up or down a level in the existing path. Drag the folder to the location in the path where you want it to be.
  • Truncated folder names often show up in the Path Bar. You can expand the Finder window to see the folders' full names, but that doesn't work well if you have a lot of truncated folder names in the Path Bar. A better method is to place your cursor over a folder with a truncated name. After a second or two, the folder expands to show its full name.
  • The Path Bar also works when you're performing a Finder search. When the results of a search are displayed in the Finder, you can discover where an item is stored by selecting the item in the search results and then glancing at the Path Bar.

Additional Ways to Show the Path

The Path Bar is handy, but there are other ways to display the path to an item. One method is to add the Path icon to the Finder's toolbar by selecting View in the Finder menu bar and choosing Customize Toolbar. Drag the Path icon to the top of the Finder window.

Path icon in Finder on a Mac

The Path icon displays the path to the currently selected item much as the Path Bar does. The difference is that the Path Bar shows the path in a horizontal format, while the Path icon uses a vertical format. The other difference is that the Path button only displays the path when the button is clicked.

Display the Full Pathname

The final method for showing the path to an item within a Finder window makes use of the Finder's title bar and its proxy icon. The Finder's proxy icon can already display a path. All you need to do is right-click the icon. This path uses a series of icons to show the path to the current Finder window. However, with a bit of Terminal magic, you can change the Finder's title bar and its proxy icon to display the true pathname, not a bunch of icons. For example, if you have a Finder window open on your Downloads folder, the standard proxy icon is a folder icon with the name "Downloads." After using this Terminal trick, the Finder instead displays a small folder icon followed by /Users/YourUserName/Downloads.

To enable the Finder's title bar to display the long pathname, do the following:

  1. Launch Terminal, located at /Applications/Utilities/.

  2. At the Terminal command prompt, enter the following:

    defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool true

    You can triple-click the Terminal command here to select the entire line of text and then copy/paste the line into your Terminal window.

  3. Press Enter or Return.

  4. At the Terminal prompt, enter:

    killall Finder
  5. Press Enter or Return.

The Finder restarts, after which any Finder window displays the long pathname to the current location of a folder.

Disable Display of the Full Pathname

If you decide you don't like the Finder always displaying the long pathname, you can turn the feature off with the following Terminal commands:

  1. At the Terminal command prompt, enter the following:

    defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool false
  2. Press Enter or Return.

  3. At the Terminal prompt, enter:

    killall Finder
  4. Press Enter or Return.

The Finder Path Bar and the related path features of the Finder can be a handy shortcut when working with files and folders. Give this nifty hidden feature a try.