Save Time by using the Mac’s “Go” Menu

Updated April 19th, 2020.

Finder Month continues with a look at the incredibly useful Go menu.

Every Mac includes several standard folders. Some of them are really important, accessed frequently, and if you can get to them quickly and easily you will save time every single day. Here are some folders I know you could use shortcuts for:

  • Recents
  • Documents
  • Desktop
  • Downloads
  • Applications
  • Utilities

You might have shortcuts to some of these folders in Finder windows, in the Finder’s Sidebar under “Favorites.” Or, you might have shortcuts to some of these folders in your Finder’s Toolbar. Even if you do, you probably don’t have shortcuts for them all, and you might want a quick and easy way to access them. The “quick and easy way” is called The Go Menu. It’s part of the Finder, built-into every Mac, and almost universally ignored (but not by you, not after reading this article!).

Here’s the Go menu.

The Go menu
The Go menu

The Go menu has every folder on our list, and more! I’m not wild about the name “Go” but I do like the menu. Very useful, very handy, very time-saving.

If you don’t see a “Go” menu in the menubar it’s probably because the Finder isn’t the frontmost app. You can bring the Finder to the front by clicking on the Desktop, or by clicking the Finder icon in the Dock. (The Finder icon is at the very top (or far left) of the Dock.) If you’ve brought the Finder to the front you’ll see the Go menu for sure.

Mac Finder icon
Mac Finder icon

Let’s have another look at the Go menu, and all of the great folders listed in it. And check out those keyboard shortcuts: they’re (almost) all “Command-Shift-something,” which makes them easy to remember. If memorizing them all sounds daunting start with these four, which I think are the most important:

  • Command-Shift-A (Applications folder)
  • Command-Shift-D (Desktop folder– yes, what’s in this folder is what you see on the Desktop)
  • Command-Option-D (Downloads folder)
  • Command-Shift-H (Home folder)

Practice accessing those folders via the keyboard and you’ll soon be saving time like crazy. The keyboard shortcuts work in Open.. and Save… dialog boxes too, which gives you the chance to save even more time.

Bonus: It turns out that there’s one other really important folder that you occasionally need to get into, but Apple makes it invisible because if you mess things up in that folder, your Mac won’t work, so they try to protect you by keeping you out of it. That folder is your user Library, and you access it in the Go menu by holding down the Option key while the Go menu is showing.

The Go menu, showing "Library," because we held the Option key down
The Go menu, with Option key held down, revealing Library

Note: if you always want the Library folder to show in the Go menu, whether you’re holding the Option key or not, you can make that happen. Just go to your Home folder (Command-Shift-H), then to View/Show View Options, then check the box to “Always show Library.”

Checking the box for Show Library Folder
Checking the box for Show Library Folder

Note: If you check the box for Show Library Folder the Library folder will always show in the Go menu. It will also appear in your Home folder, along with the Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Music, Movies, and Public folders. Personally I prefer to leave the Library folder hidden, and to access it via the Option key technique in the Go menu when I need it.

Double-Bonus: you can put many of the menu items in the Go menu in Finder window Sidebars for even quicker access- do that in the Finder’s preferences.

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