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

Aug 31, 2011 - 36 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.

How to Use “Go To Folder” on Mac

You have two ways of accessing the Go To Folder function from the Mac OS X desktop and Finder:

  1. Go to the Finder of Mac OS if you have not done so already
  2. From the “Go” menu navigate down to “Go to Folder” ….or better yet…
  3. Hit Command+Shift+G from the Mac OS X desktop or a Finder window

Ideally, you’ll remember that keyboard shortcut of Command + Shift + G. It’s very powerful and becomes incredibly efficient once committed to memory and utilized to jump around the file system with ease.

Whether you just like to make customizations to Mac 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!


Related articles:

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


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  1. Angel says:

    yes, the terminal… but i wanted to SEE the folder. And the mac was hiding it. Love Go To Folder! Thank you so much!

  2. Snoz says:

    Finder on my Mac has no “Go Menu”. The utter, pure puppery of Apple developers buggers the imagination.

    • The Cat says:

      Every version of Finder on every Mac has a “Go” menu. It is an essential component of Finder, it is a built-in menu in every version of Mac OS.

      Open the Finder

      Look at your MENU BAR

      It has a “GO” menu as one of the multiple menu bar options of Finder

      There is your “Go” menu.

      Not rocket science, just follow the directions.

  3. Bridgett says:

    You seriously just saved me so much trouble. I only wish I’d found you in September when it would have saved me 10 hours of work. This time, you saved me losing critical notes from a conference call. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Nilesh Parmar says:

    Thank you.

  5. tom says:

    what is a “go menu”?

  6. Stevo Slavic says:

    I wonder why don’t they just display current path always and make it editable (or at least make it an option to enable this). Then we could forget about yet another shortcut we could live without.

  7. 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!

  8. […] the Finder, use Command+Shift+G and to summon Go To Folder and enter the following […]

  9. […] one that had a lengthy path buried somewhere deep in OS X? It turns out that by using the excellent Go To Folder shortcut, you can do exactly that, and if you know the destination path or have it in your clipboard, you […]

  10. Tara says:

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

  11. […] To Folder is easily one of the most useful keyboard shortcuts in the OS X Finder since you can jump anywhere instantly, and the root directory […]

  12. […] easy! OS X Daily explains how it’s done: From the OS X Finder, hit Command+Shift+G to summonĀ Go To FolderĀ and enter the following path […]

  13. […] the Desktops preference panel you can also click the little [+] icon and follow it up with some Go To Folder magic to get there as […]

  14. […] the OS X Finder, hit Command+Shift+G to summon Go To Folder and enter the following path […]

  15. […] Go To Folder command is one of the most useful features in the OS X Finder, letting you quickly navigate deep […]

  16. […] the OS X Finder, hit Command+Shift+G to bring up the “Go To Folder” window and enter the following […]

  17. 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”

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

    • Peter says:

      Get the file path from the get info, and drop it into finder>go>connect to server “server address:” field.

      On the other hand. Drag and drop into the “server address:” field gets the server volume name wrong in my case.

  21. Joshua K says:

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

  22. Chip says:

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

  23. 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).

  24. Gil says:

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

  25. Michael Dell says:

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

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