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I'd like to add a a shortcut to Finder's Places Sidebar. The folder's name happens to be Applications, so I want to give it a different name since there's already the standard Applications folder there.

Renaming the folder on the sidebar renames the actual folder, which is undesirable because I think it might break the program which uses it.

I've tried making an alias, and then dragging the alias to the Sidebar, but the real name gets used.

Do you know how I can create this shortcut on the sidebar with a different name?

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Just to save others the thirty seconds it takes to try: symlinks don't work either. – Scott Mar 17 '11 at 11:14
What about aliases? – Mark Mar 17 '11 at 13:00
When I put an alias in the Sidebar the real name of the folder is used, not the alias' name. – Louis Mar 17 '11 at 13:08
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Before anything, you should try renaming the folder. It will most likely not break your app because of how HFS works. But there are indeed some applications that might not link properly to files.

I could come up with 4 different solutions:

  1. This may be the simplest: do it the other way around. Use whatever name you like on the folder and add an Alias to it. Grab the folder with the name you want and add it to the sidebar. The alias will not change. In your instance, you'd rename your Applications from within your "username" folder to something like My Applications and as we already know, that would be the enforced name on the sidebar. Then add an alias (or a symlink) to it called Applications, which will probably work for your program.

    As Daniel said as a comment, you can aditionally hide the alias or the folder (but not the symlink) from finder by using: chflags hidden folder/alias. Use chflags nohidden folder/alias to show it again and with ls -lO (that's a capital o) you can see its flags on Terminal.

  2. Use a savedSearch. You can name them whatever you want. Steps:

    1. go to that alternate Applications folder
    2. begin a search typing anything
    3. clear whatever you typed in
    4. select "File Name" (rather than "Contents") and your folder (rather than "This Mac")
    5. press the + sign
    6. press on Kind to add Other
    7. choose File Visibility and suit your taste
    8. press "Save", choose any name leaving the ".savedSearch" intact
    9. make sure "Add to Sidebar" is ticked.
  3. If you prefer trying the hack, good luck with it. Basically you would edit ~/Library/Preferences/ (use Property List Editor if you have XCode installed) and change the Name of your custom useritems and restart Finder. Supposedly option+right click on Finder and Relaunch would do this last trick. I couldn't myself reproduce this and make it work, but maybe it will if you reboot the machine. I doubt anyone would ever build any tweaker for such an overlooked feature.

  4. ForkLift is a great Finder alternative that will accept aliases on the sidebar.

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I tried 3) also and it didn't work. I'm afraid Finder ignores the name set in the plist. I like the symlink approach though. Additionally, while it somewhat duplicates the directory, chflags hidden dirname can hide one of them in Finder. – Daniel Beck Apr 7 '11 at 18:44
@Daniel yeah, maybe 3 isn't such a good idea after all... But I didn't bother trying it again. I'll wait to see if anyone else can confirm it before removing it. :P And good idea on the hiding, didn't know about it. – cregox Apr 7 '11 at 21:42
@Daniel I love when others edit my posts for positive contributions. This once this guy changed my whole post, and it looked so much more professional afterwards. I'm not that good of a writer after all, and he demonstrated himself an awesome one. If you can recall this, feel free to edit anything from me. If I don't like it, I can always revert or discuss or whatever (that also happened before). – cregox Apr 9 '11 at 12:30
@Daniel way more precisely said but still what I meant. And I can see the link plus I could find it from the prior link as well. So don't need to be that high rep. If you don't like edits for things like that, I can't see why. I had similar issues and I fought for them, and reverted. And learned a little bit in the run. Maybe your specific example has nothing to teach you so, if you got a lot of those I can see how it can stack up on your patience meter and why you don't like 'em. But there must be something that can be done if this is the hassle. The edit feature is very good otherwise. – cregox Apr 11 '11 at 20:54
I've been using #2. Thanks for your help. I didn't mark it as a solution though, because I wasn't sure if the other options were better. Being new to OS X I didn't want to try something I didn't understand, or understand how to undo. I'll try the other suggestions when my project is complete, and can afford to troubleshoot any unforeseen downtime. – Louis Apr 18 '11 at 17:37

Use an application instead.

Open /Applications/Utilities/AppleScript Editor and enter the following:

tell application "Finder" to set target of first window whose index is 1 to (POSIX file "/Users/danielbeck/Applications")

Save as application anywhere you like (see below for hint on this) and drag it from there to the Finder sidebar. Clicking This will navigate the frontmost Finder window to the specified folder.

To give it a "real" Applications Finder sidebar icon, navigate to /System/Library/CoreServices, right-click and Show Package Contents on CoreTypes.bundle. Then open Contents/Resources and open ToolbarAppsFolderIcon.icns in preview. Select the smallest version from the sidebar and press Cmd-C, then Get Info on your AppleScript application, select the icon and press Cmd-V to paste the Applications icon onto your application.

enter image description here


  • No "selected" state in the sidebar when in the Applications folder
  • Annoying (and ugly, since the selected icon is so tiny) animation whenever starting the application to navigate to the folder
  • Doesn't really work with file dialogs (e.g. Open… and Save as…). Selecting it then will open the folder where you stored the application (so store it in the folder you want to link it to!)
  • Cannot Command-Click to open in a new window (might be possible through advanced AppleScript-fu).
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That's just fugly. Also, if you use set target in column view, it shows all the columns starting from the volume, not starting from the last location kept in the sidebar. – user495470 Mar 26 '11 at 9:11
@Lri Provide a better solution then. Localization doesn't work without renaming the folder to Name.localized, so I tried this, and it somewhat works. I wouldn't use it, but someone might think it's useful. See that section drawbacks? Even I recognize it's not that good. – Daniel Beck Mar 26 '11 at 9:25
I happen to find this quite a creative solution. Very clever! But take a look at my newest suggestion: doing it the other way around! :P (so sad Louis is one of those who ask the question and never comes back) – cregox Apr 7 '11 at 18:35
I'm sorry, I've read these, but I'm new to OS X and have been apprehensive about trying these. I was hoping that the upvotes would be enough help others. – Louis Apr 18 '11 at 17:34
@Louis I though the upvote on this answer was from me, and on my answer was from Daniel! :P – cregox Apr 18 '11 at 17:41

You could rename the folder, while putting a symlink called "Applications" pointing to it inside its parent directory. Then all paths going through foo/Applications would continue to work.

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