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

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?