OS X Lion: Replacing the “Show/Hide” Button in Finder

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Again we have a tip that discusses my little computer obsessions, eh? You guys are going to start thinking I’m a few cards short of a full deck. Heck, my cat thinks I’m a few cards short, so why should you all be any different? Ahem. Anyway, the annoyance we’ll be covering today is the disappearance of the small pill-shaped icon that used to adorn our Finder windows. Since the introduction of Lion, that’s gone the way of the dodo, so here’s how you can mimic its usefulness.

So what that button did in previous versions of Mac OS X was to expand and collapse both the sidebar and the toolbar in Finder windows. What I think it was most often used for, though, was frightening the heck out of unsuspecting new Mac owners.

“Where did my buttons go?! AAAAAAAAH!”

I always used it for a very specific thing—when you download and install a piece of software that comes on a disk image, you’ll note that developers will often customize the Finder window that opens. This is a good thing, as it can give users very specific, simple instructions on what to do with the application they’re installing, as Firefox’s disk image window shows below.

My problem is that once I’ve dragged the program to the Applications folder, I don’t want to have to go far to eject the disk image that I’ve been installing from. ‘Cause having lots of disk images mounted to show up in my sidebar or in Disk Utility is one of those silly annoyances that drives me quite bonkers (see the introductory paragraph—cards, full deck, you understand). Another thing this was good for was opening up the sidebar to drag other files off of a similar disk image and into your Documents folder, say, or to your Desktop. What? Some people actually READ those readme.txt files.

So to accomplish these tasks in Snow Leopard and earlier, what I’d do is click on the pill icon to expand the Finder window’s toolbar and sidebar, and then I’d simply hit the sidebar’s eject button to unmount the disk image I was installing from (or I’d use the sidebar to move any files around that I needed to). No muss, no fuss. 

You’d click here…


…to expand your toolbar and sidebar.


In Lion, though, the missing pill is a problem.

Why, Apple, why?!


I could open up a new Finder window by hitting Command-N, I guess, but that seems like masking the symptoms instead of curing the disease. Luckily, there are a couple of easy solutions. One is to hit Option-Command-T to expand the toolbar (or choose the menu item View > Show Toolbar). Then you can also hit Option-Command-S (View > Show Sidebar) to pop that open, too, if it doesn’t automatically show up when you summon the toolbar. Voilà—lovely disk ejection action.

Ha ha ha, Chrome disk image, you do what I want.


Additionally, I’ve been using an easier workaround if all I want to do is eject the disk. If you’ve got a disk image window open and hit Command-E (for Eject), the image will be unmounted immediately. You can use this in other places around your Mac, too, such as selecting an external hard drive on your Desktop and hitting this keyboard shortcut to quickly send it on its way. Neato!

So I guess I didn’t need that little pill icon after all. Well, I still think it was easier than making users memorize keyboard shortcuts, but who am I to judge, really?

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I have been reading a lot of feedback about Lion. I do not have it (still stuck on a G5… trying to save for the upgrade to any Mac intel-based….)
But what i read is not encouraging.
Every week I read more and more how Apple has dumbed down Lion to the point of alienating the users who USE their software—like me. This is a great example. I use the “little pill” exactly as Melissa does, and will miss it just like her.
This is not good when Apple’s true genius, its OS,  is being “dumbed down” instead of “refined for better human use.”
Just my 2? from North Pole

Melissa Holt

Hey John,

I do have to confess that?despite my little in-article jabs about the changes?I’m a big fan of Lion. For power users, there are some issues we have to work around, true, but for the vast majority of folks, the changes in Lion will prevent problems. Under Snow Leopard, I’d get calls quite often from clients who’d deleted something out of their home Library folder, for example, and couldn’t figure out what they’d done.

One of the reasons why I like Apple’s OS more than Windows is that you don’t have to have a lot of computer knowledge to make it work. I’m a big believer in the idea that computers should be made for the average, non-technical person, and those of us who want to tinker with things can still do so. I always think of it akin to any other household appliance?I’d have no idea how to fix my microwave if it broke, so it should just work and be simple to operate. No one ever gets upset because their refrigerator became easier to use. wink

Sorry for going off on a tangent about your post. I definitely see why some people are complaining about Lion, but I’ve been very happy with it, both for myself and for the people I support in my job.



I have been using 10.7 for a few weeks now, and I hate it.

The lack of the Save As command requires no less than two extra actions to make a new file out of an old one.  I’m a professor, and teaching new classes I have to write six new lectures each week.  I can’t just open up my last lecture and choose Save As anymore.  No… now I have to also choose Duplicate.  Then I have to dismiss the old document.  Then I have choose the regular Save command.  And if I don’t do this right away?  It goes into ‘edit mode’, and I overwrite my old document and lose that previous work.  This is not a feature, it is A DESIGN FLAW.

Spaces is also been made more complex by supposedly making it ‘simpler’.  You can’t just go into Spaces anymore via a hot corner and see all your desktops, and just drag a window from one to another.  In 10.6, if I wanted a window that was on another desktop, I could just hit the hotcorner, drag the window I wanted to where I was, and click back on that desktop and be done.  But now, I have to go into Spaces, change to the desktop that has the window, go back into spaces, drag the window to the desktop I want it on, then click back to that desktop.  This requires MORE STEPS and LESS EFFICIENT.  It is a step backwards, not forwards. 

These are just two of my biggest issues with 10.7, I have plenty more I won’t bother to go into.

10.7 is a disaster.  It is not only flawed, but is a memory hog, and buggy (Desktop pic changing anyone?).  I don’t have the time to change back to 10.6 right now, but next month, when the college I teach at has Spring Break, I’m wiping my drive, reformatting, and going back to 10.6.8.  This new version is atrocious, and I can barely wait to be rid of it.  There isn’t a day that goes by where it doesn’t cause me some kind of headache, and I will overjoyed to be rid of it.


I agree about Lion being…not good.  However, the lack of “Save As…” seems only to affect Apple apps.  Therefore, I don’t know if it qualifies as an OS flaw.  (And hopefully Apple won’t push it onto developers of Lion-only apps.)  I would either seek non-Apple alternatives that still have the “Save As…” option, or create duplicates in Finder, rename them, and edit them as necessary.  The switch from <app> to Finder would work to prevent you from accidentally losing previous work, one doing the switch becomes routine.

I also haven’t had any issues with changing the Desktop Background.  It does seem to use a lot of memory compared to previous versions, but I loaded up on memory so it hasn’t proven to be a practical issue.

I can’t believe Apple still hasn’t fixed the incredibly stupid window views problem.  The OS is treating the Save dialog window as a folder window, and changing some folders to Column view when you navigate to them in the dialog, unless those folders are open.  I was hoping 10.7.3 would do it, but no.

My other big gripe (out of many) is Mission Control.  However, instead of hating what Apple has done to Spaces (which I hardly ever use, although I should), I hate what they’ve done to Expos?, specifically the removal of “Show All Windows”.  That was the most useful Expos? feature, but Apple has decided to sacrifice efficiency and for organization.  The way Lion cycles through windows with Cmd-` has changed for the worse as well, but I don’t know how many people would even notice that, let alone care.


I like Lion pretty darn well. It runs well on my 2010 Mini with no hit in performance.

After trying it for several months on a separate partition, I finally migrated my entire system over to Lion.
I even had Snow Leopard on a Virtual Box VM in case I needed some of my old specific apps, but all but a couple I was able to migrate and my parallels 7 VM is working better than it ever did under SL.

My TacX VR trainer software works much better now that I am on Lion with Parallels 7. Everything else seems quite snappy too.

I too have my gripes. There are things that don’t exactly function the same, but I have learned some work-arounds.

I would like a Save As function again right in my menu, since I often use that to save a separate copy to my ReadyNAS. I routinely used save as and almost never used just save.

I do love the new Merge feature. It’s absense was one of the banes of my early OSX existence since I was used to just dragging and dropping in Windows and Linux. In OSX I wiped out many a folder’s data before realizing it wasn’t going to merge two folder’s contents together. Grrrr….

But Lion is awesome overall and I am happy with it. I figure most of the gripes are growing pains. Everyone is always more used to the way things were….especially power users. Currently, I am still learning to use Lion more effectively and I suspect I will just about get that accomplished by the time 10.8 comes out. Then the process will have to start again.

Melissa Holt

A reader named Harvey sent this to me and asked me to post it (he’s having trouble getting registered here). I think it’s a great addition to the article:

In your article, you forgot to mention the easiest way to eject the open DMG

It’s even easier than using the old the ?Show/Hide? button that you miss
so much!

If you miss using your mouse to click the old button, it’s easier just to
use the contextual menu (your cursor can be anywhere on the open window, you
don’t have to move it to the top right corner as you did to click the
?Show/Hide? button).

Just click anywhere in the open window, and select “eject Firefox.dmg” or
whatever the volume is named.

The window will close, and the DMG volume will eject.

This is MUCH easier and faster than using the old ?Show/Hide? button,
and you’ll forget you ever wanted it in the first place. (I’ve been using
Lion happily, and don’t miss the old button at all wink

Thanks, Harvey!

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