Open a Parent Folder of an Open Mac File

I have had trouble remembering this tip, so I thought I'd share it in hopes that explaining it embeds it into other parts of my brain and makes it possible to not have search for it every time I want to use it. I have thought about what I might do in KBM to protect myself from this mistake or to just have a reminder of what the right method is, but I don't have that yet, so this is meant to describe the memory assists (mnemonics) that I have so far.

In many Mac applications, TextEdit, Finder, you name it, the file name is the window title and there is often a drop down if you click it that lets you see the path to the file, all its parent folders, and in some cases rename and move the file.

A poorly documented feature is that when you drop down the path folder list, you can open up any of those folders in Finder. Unfortunately, there is another dropdown list of folders that won't open the Finder folder, it will move the file into that parent (or grandparent, etc.) folder.

I have repeatedly forgotten the details and in poking around trying to figure out what the hotkey might be to get the other list, I have frequently accidentally moved the file into one of its parent folders, and there's no Undo on that move! So I have to hunt down the file and remember where it came from to move it back.

So when it happened today, I decide to explore ways of helping myself remember how to open a file's parent.

First, I have frequently fallen into the trap of thinking that I would open the folder from the list that drops down in the Rename dialog. Nope! Only renaming and moving happen there. When that filename is highlighted, it's subject to change, and any clicks on a parent folder in the drop down will do that (usually) unwanted move.


There is a second dropdown list of folders available by right-clicking on the name in the titlebar. This dropdown is available in Finder windows, while the rename dropdown is not. You can't rename a Finder folder from any titlebar dropdown, so that's part of what I hope will be my way of remembering the difference.

When you right-click on the name in the titlebar, you get a list of folders with the filename at the top and the filename is not highlighted. You won't accidentally make any changes to the file's name or location from this menu. Whew!


Just click on any folder name in this list, with the filename not highlighted, and you will open that folder in Finder. If it's already open, you may move focus to that existing Finder window.

This may be a small thing, but it has tripped me up repeatedly, so I hope that by explaining it to you, that I will remember it myself in the future.