Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

It is commonly asked how to get a Terminal prompt from a Finder window. I am asking the opposite.

I would like a command-line way of determining the working directory of the "current" Finder window.

share|improve this question
What do you mean by "current" Finder window when Terminal is the active app? By definition, no Finder window has focus then... – Daniel Jan 20 '12 at 23:22
and more what if Finder has several windows open - what is the current window? – Mark Jan 20 '12 at 23:30
The actual opposite would probably be open . in Terminal... – Daniel Beck Jan 24 '12 at 7:26

The following command will return the path to the frontmost Finder window, if that's what you're looking for:

osascript -e 'tell application "Finder" to get the POSIX path of (target of front window as alias)'

Note that this cannot return a POSIX path if the frontmost window has no POSIX path. So if the frontmost Finder window has an ongoing/finished search, is a smart folder or other magical location (like your Mac under devices, which lists all the mounted volumes and the network).

Search/Smart folder/No Finder window returns:

execution error: Can’t make «class fvtg» of window 1 of application "Finder" into type alias. (-1700)

And trying to execute the command when viewing your Mac:

execution error: No result was returned from some part of this expression. (-2763)

share|improve this answer
This is a good answer. I use TotalFinder in "visor" mode (it retracts when you're not using it). If TotalFinder is retracted and I run that command, I always get the error message. If TotalFinder is pinned, I get the path as desired. Shame it doesn't work in pinned mode; oh well. Use case: I wanted to write a command-line tool to create a new file (text, word, excel, ...) in the "current" Finder window, by which I mean most-recently-focused. I've done it a different way using DTerm to open a mini-prompt from the Finder window. Works well. – nosedog Feb 28 '12 at 11:20

pwd: print name of current/working directory

open .: open current directory in finder

share|improve this answer
I'm not really sure, if this is the answer to your question. Also, what do you by getting a "Terminal prompt from a Finder window"? – gentmatt Jan 20 '12 at 23:12
I think you misread that one gentmatt. Edit: yup u realised. I think he means things like 'prompt here' a service to open a terminal window from Finder where the path in Terminal is preset to the finder's path. He's looking for the reverse function – Stu Wilson Jan 20 '12 at 23:13

This guy has a great answer

Define the two functions:

function ff { osascript -e 'tell application "Finder"'\
 -e "if (${1-1} <= (count Finder windows)) then"\
 -e "get POSIX path of (target of window ${1-1} as alias)"\
 -e 'else' -e 'get POSIX path of (desktop as alias)'\
 -e 'end if' -e 'end tell'; };\

function cdff { pushd "`ff $@`"; };

After that you can type cdff to cd into Finder directory.

share|improve this answer
Hi there, I've improved the formatting for you. Check out the live preview and the formatting guide when you write posts -- they're very useful. Welcome to the site! – jmk Oct 19 '12 at 5:37

If you are using zsh with oh-my-zsh the requested functionality is provided by the osx-Plugin. After activating the plugin in the configuration file (usually ~/.zshrc) one can use pfd to geht the path to the current finder window and cdf to cd to it.

share|improve this answer

insertion location is basically the target of Finder window 1 or desktop.

f() {
    cd "$(osascript -e 'tell app "Finder"
POSIX path of (insertion location as alias)

There's a bug on 10.7 and 10.8 where the target and insertion location properties refer to the second frontmost window after opening a new window.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.