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Why (and How) Using Finder Favorites Will Boost Your Productivity

The Mac offers oodles of techniques for organizing, opening, and saving files. We’re particularly fond of Finder favorites, which provide quick access to your most-used folders in the sidebar of every Finder window and Open/Save dialog. macOS provides a default set of Finder favorites, and you can replace the defaults with your own selections.

To view your Finder favorites, switch to the Finder (click the Finder icon in the Dock, or click the Desktop backdrop behind your windows). If you don’t have any Finder windows open, choose File > New Finder Window. Your favorites appear in the left-hand sidebar of the window. Most of them, apart from AirDrop, Recent, and iCloud Drive, represent folders on your drive, and you can click them in the sidebar to see what’s inside them. (More technically, these favorites are aliases to the associated folders on your drive.)

Using Favorites

Here’s how to put your favorites to work:

Easy filing: To put away files or folders that are strewn around on your Desktop, drag them into the favorite where you’d like to store them.

Easy opening: Do you often open files from a particular folder? Make that folder a favorite—we explain how below—and your files will be a click away in any Finder window. You can also access your favorites in the left-hand sidebar of any Open dialog (which looks a lot like a Finder window).

Easy saving: Finder favorites are listed on the Where menu in the Save dialog in its compressed form, and in the sidebar when you expand the dialog by clicking the downward-pointing arrow beside the Save As field. If you often want to save files in a particular folder, make that folder a favorite and you’re good to go.

Quick access to projects: We like to make favorites for our current project folders. That way, whether we want to open a file, upload a file to the Web, or send a file to someone else, we don’t have to spend time remembering where we put those folders or—worse—trying to find files that were saved in the wrong place because accessing the project folder while saving was inconvenient.

Making Favorites

To make a folder into a favorite, drag it from any Finder window—or the Desktop—into the Favorites region of the sidebar. A horizontal blue line appears, showing the position where the favorite will be when you drop the folder, as you can see in the screenshot, where the AP Comp folder is being dragged.

After you drop the folder, an entry for it appears in the sidebar, but the real folder stays where it was—you haven’t relocated the folder or moved any of its files. You can also add a folder to the Favorites list while in an Open dialog or an expanded Save dialog.

To remove a favorite from the sidebar, Control-click its icon in a Finder window sidebar and choose Remove from Sidebar. This removes the favorite but doesn’t delete the associated folder, which remains in its original Finder location.

You can also add and remove some common folders using the Finder’s preferences—this is an easy way to make your Home folder a favorite. Choose Finder > Preferences, click Sidebar on the toolbar, and then select or deselect the Favorites checkboxes as desired. Note that although Recents, iCloud Drive, and AirDrop aren’t folders, they can be helpful for accessing recently used files, getting at items stored in iCloud Drive, and sharing files between devices with Apple’s AirDrop feature.

What if you don’t see any favorites in your Finder window? First, if the sidebar isn’t showing, choose View > Show Sidebar. If it is visible but doesn’t have a Favorites label at the top, choose Finder > Preferences, click the Sidebar button, and select at least one item in the Favorites category. If the Favorites label does appear in the sidebar but doesn’t have anything under it, hover the pointer over Favorites to reveal a Show link and click it.

One last tip. You can adjust the width of the sidebar by dragging the vertical line at its right side. If you make it too narrow, the sidebar will disappear, but you can get it back by choosing View > Sidebar.

We like to organize our favorites whenever we start or finish a project, adding or removing folders so it’s easy to work with documents in the Finder, and in Open and Save dialogs. Give them a try, and you’ll find yourself working faster than ever before on your Mac!

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