The back button in Finder seems to only remember your own trail. I.e., when there is a folder higher up the hierarchy, but you did not visit it before you came to the current one, the back button will be disabled.

This means that when I open a Finder folder in an existing directory, the back button will not work. I would like it to function more like it does in Windows, so that the back button will always go up one step in the folder hierarchy. Is this possible on macOS Sierra?

1 Answer 1


The back button behave the same way in Windows & Mac, it returns to where you last looked. If that was the only place you've been, it has no history.

You can test that in Windows by either selecting different locations from the sidebar shortcuts, or by opening a new window by right clicking a folder & selecting Open in new Window. It then will not have a History.

To navigate the hierarchy on Mac there are several options...

  • Cmd ⌘ will climb the hierarchy, Cmd ⌘ will descend it.
  • From the Finder window toolbar, there is a hierarchy drop-menu - enter image description here
  • Even without the toolbar visible, Cmd ⌘ Click on the folder icon at the top of any window will drop the same menu.
  • From the Path bar underneath, you can double click any item to open that point
    enter image description here
  • 1
    You're totally right, and I didn't know about the shortcuts or path bar. Many thanks! Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 16:11
  • I don't see a path bar on high sierra but cmd up did work. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 19:42
  • 1
    @user1821961 - Path Bar toggle is in the View menu, or cmd/opt/p
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 5:10

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