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I'm on Yosemite, and I'd like to hide the Finder toolbar. But doing "View > Hide Toolbar" causes two undesired side effects:

  • Tab functionality is disabled: "File > New Tab" is grayed out. If there are already multiple tabs, then "View > Hide Toolbar" is grayed out. So we can hide the toolbar, or we can have tabs, but not both. I have been able to work around this issue by installing XtraFinder and using its tab functionality.

  • Folders open in new windows, instead of the same window. This behavior is actually documented. We can revert to the regular behavior with various key combinations, depending on how we're opening the folders, for example by using Ctrl+Cmd+O instead of just Cmd+O. This is not a great solution, though -- I don't want to have to use more complicated keyboard shortcuts just to get Finder to behave normally.

My questions:

  • Are there better workarounds to get Finder to behave normally when the toolbar is hidden?

  • What possible reasons could there be to have Finder behave this way? It seems like "the principle of most surprise" at work.

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As to your second question of "why does the Finder behave this way?", I will hazard a guess that it mimics the decades-long traditional behavior of Finder windows. This was how Finder windows worked in Mac OS through version 9.

Mac OS 9 Finder windows

In earlier versions of OS X, there was a button in the top right corner of windows that toggled between the "old" Finder window behavior and the "new" (toolbar) behavior.

OS X Finder window top right button

The button was removed in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, but you get the same results by hiding the toolbar.

  • Yes, I remember the proliferating windows from Macintoshes past. It seems extremely odd, though, to make the choice of old or new behavior follow the visibility of the toolbar, rather than, say, a preferences checkbox. – Simon Rochester Aug 20 '15 at 7:46

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