“Go To Folder” is the Most Useful Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcut for Power Users

Aug 31, 2011 - 23 Comments

Go To Folder command in Mac OS X

If there’s only one keyboard shortcut you should remember in Mac OS X it’s this: Go To Folder. We refer to this keyboard command so frequently here on OSXDaily that we just sort of assume everyone knows it, but it’s so useful and powerful that it’s worth making an individual post about it.

Using “Go To Folder” is easy and you have two ways of accessing it from the Mac OS X desktop:

  1. From the “Go” menu navigate down to “Go to Folder” or better yet…
  2. Hit Command+Shift+G from the OS X desktop

Remember this keyboard shortcut. Whether you just like to make customizations to OS X, dig around in preference and cache files, go deep in system folders, or you want to navigate to complex directory path structures, this keyboard shortcut saves you a tremendous amount of time by allowing you to jump into paths in the Mac OS X file system without clicking around.

Go To Folder keystroke in Mac OS X

“Go To Folder” Tips

There are a few additional tips that are worth remembering when using the Go To Folder command: tab completion, and drag & drop support.

Use Tab Completion

Tab completion works like this, you start to type a directory path or filename and hit the Tab key to complete the text for you, preventing you from typing out the entire thing.

Tab Completion in Go To Folder

For example, if you want to navigate to /Users/YourName/Library/iTunes/ you can just do to this type /U (TAB) /Yo (TAB) /Li (TAB) /iT(TAB) where each time you hit the tab key the rest of the path will autocomplete. If you hear the system alert sound instead, that means there are other alternatives that start with the same first letters, so just type an additional letter in the sequence and hit tab.

We discussed tab completion a while ago but it’s worth mentioning again since it makes Command+Shift+G even speedier when digging deep.

Drag & Drop Support

The Go To window also supports drag and drop, so if you already have a folder open somewhere or you just want to quickly retrieve the full path of something, just drag and drop a directory or file into the Go To Folder window.
Drag and Drop in the Go To Folder dialog of OS X
The full path will type out for you, which you can either go directly to or quickly copy and paste to provide to another user. This also works with network paths and mounted volumes, so if you wanted to provide someone on your LAN with a quickly accessible path to a file or directory, that drag & drop feature is all the more useful.

“Go To” Works in Save & Open Dialog Boxes Too

You can also use the “Go To” command from Save dialog boxes, so if you want to save or open a file from a long directory path, hit Command+Shift+G from an Open or Save window to bring it up.
Go To Folder within a Save dialog box of Mac OS X
Again, tab completion and drag and drop support works in here, and this is a much quicker way to access some directory paths than clicking around.

Is there a keyboard shortcut that is more useful than “Go To Folder”? I don’t think so, but let’s hear about it if there is one!

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

23 Comments

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  1. Michael Dell says:

    I’d say it’s a toss up between this and Command Space for Spotlight. Both I use all the time.

  2. Gil says:

    Is there a way to combine “Go to folder” with “Spotlight”?

  3. Bret Sikkink says:

    Command-Space for Quicksilver. Does the same thing, learns iteratively, has other options besides “go to” (like rename, move, trash, get path, reveal in finder, open new document in, etc.) and also works for applications besides the Finder. QS also provides support for using arrow keys, has the tab trick, and using the comma trick allows for selecting multiple files or folders to perform those actions on (i.e., I can “go to” several folders at once without leaving the QS dialog box).

  4. Chip says:

    Didn’t know that about the drag drop support, this will come in handy…

  5. Joshua K says:

    Drag and drop also works from the little icon at the top of terminal. It pastes in your current working directory.

  6. mike says:

    so im trying to use this command to share server file paths between network users.

    so far i have found that drag and drop does not work in 10.5 (at least 10.5 is my best guess at this point)

    i have also found that if i copy a path while logged into server as user A and email that path to user B logged into the server as user B – the directory cannot be found

    If i copy the path as user A then send it to a machine also logged in as user A the path is found

    anyone have any thoughts?

  7. Mario says:

    Sorry, but power users don’t use Finder to navigate the filesystem. Power users live in the Terminal. And navigate the filesystem using aliases for the important directories.

    Occasionally, they will use Spotlight to get to the folder, but that is less useful, since what they want to do, they want to do from Terminal anyway.

    So, please, stop calling yourselves power users if you use something silly like Finder to get to your files. That should be your last resort really.

  8. Barry says:

    The tab completion is case-sensitive. In bash, there is a configuration setting to make the tab completion case-insensitive. Is there any corresponding setting for the Go To Folder?

  9. pete says:

    Maybe a stupid question but I couldn’t find information about this. When the ‘go to folder’ pops up and I copied a path before why can’t I use cmd + v? I always have to use the mouse, also for clicking ‘OK’, is there an alternative to avoid using the mouse? Another question linked to this is, can I, like on Windows, just click ‘OK’ or ‘CANCEL’ by the keyboard? ENTER doesn’t work and TAB for changing also not…
    Thanks a lot”

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  16. Tara says:

    This was very helpful with correcting the error I was having at startup on chrome.

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  19. F says:

    The Go To *window* doesn’t support drag and drop. Try dropping a folder anywhere in the window except the text field and nothing happens.

    This is just the default behavior of objects on the Mac. All text fields allow dropping text on them, and all files/folders drop themselves as their absolute path in a text context. You can drop text from this webpage in that text field, too!

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