Toggle Sidebar Visibility in All Open Finder Windows

When I publish hints here on Macworld, I usually try to walk through and explain how they work, so as to help you understand what's going on behind the scenes. Sometimes, though, I'll just present a solution without much of an explanation, such as with today's hint.

Today's hint is an AppleScript that will toggle the visibility of the sidebar in all open Finder windows. In 10.6, you can do this for any one window with the View -> Hide (or Show) Sidebar menu item, but it only applies to the current window. Using the script in today's hint, you can toggle the visibility in all open windows.

While the script works in both 10.5 and 10.6, it's most useful in 10.6, because the script can't completely hide the sidebar in 10.5 (instead, it just shrinks down to its minimum width).

Another advantage to using this script in 10.6 is that it can be created as a Service, and then run via either the Services menu, or if you prefer, a keyboard shortcut.

The following instructions assume you're running 10.6; if you're running 10.5, you can either enter the code in the Script Editor, and save it as an application, or possibly create it in Automator and save it as a Finder Plug-In (though I haven't tested that).

In 10.6, launch Automator, and when the template chooser window appears, click Service then click Choose to open a new workflow. Near the top of the window that opens, on the right, you'll see two pop-up menus. Set the rightmost of those to Finder, then set the leftmost to "no input." (If you set the leftmost one first, then the Finder will disappear from the rightmost pop-up.)

Next, in the search box on the left, type run apples, which should be enough text to find just one matching action, Run AppleScript. Drag that action into the work area on the right, and then delete all of the placeholder code that's in the text area (on run {input...etc).

Insert the following code in its place:

set Showsidebar to true

tell application "Finder"

activate

if exists window 1 then

set allwins to every window whose collapsed is false

set my_num to 0

repeat with onewin in allwins

set my_num to my_num + 1

tell application "System Events"

tell process "Finder"

set my_id to the name of onewin

tell application "Finder"

try

set my_test to get ¬

toolbar visible of window my_id

on error

set my_test to false

end try

end tell

if my_test then

tell application "Finder"

if window my_id is window 1 then

set the_place to get sidebar width of window my_id

if the_place = 0 then

set Showsidebar to true

else

set Showsidebar to false

end if

end if

end tell

end if

tell application "Finder"

if index of window my_id is not equal 1 then

open window my_id

else

if Showsidebar then

tell application "Finder"

tell front window to set sidebar width to 150

end tell

else

tell application "Finder"

tell front window to set sidebar width to 0

end tell

end if

end if

end tell

end tell

if my_test then

if Showsidebar then

tell application "Finder"

tell front window to set sidebar width to 150

end tell

else

tell application "Finder"

tell front window to set sidebar width to 0

end tell

end if

end if

end tell

tell application "Finder"

set index of window my_id to my_num

end tell

end repeat

end if

end tell

Select File -> Save, and give your new Service a suitable name (Toggle Sidebar). At this point, you may want to test it by switching to the Finder, opening a few windows, then selecting Services -> Toggle Sidebar (or whatever you called it).

Assuming this works, you can then make it even simpler by creating a keyboard shortcut. Open System Preferences, and go to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard System Preferences panel. Select Services in the left-hand column, then scroll to General (the final group) in the right-hand column. Find your saved Service, and double-click in the blank area to the right of its name.

Type in a new keyboard shortcut--I've had the best luck with Services shortcuts when using Control in conjunction with Shift and/or Option--and you're done. Switch back to the Finder, and you should be able to hide (and then show again) the sidebar in all open windows by typing your keyboard shortcut.

Thanks to Mac OS X Hints contributor Laine Lee for this useful bit of AppleScript code.

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