Loose Articles

a blog by Josh Dzielak

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Hi, I'm Josh, an engineer and entrepreneur living in San Francisco. I write about code, companies, and ideas. I work at Keen IO.
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Remove Finder from the Application Switcher in Mac OSX

When I’m doing web development, I typically only have 2 Mac Applications running - iTerm2 and a Web Browser.

My workflow calls for jumping between them frequently. Thankfully, the Command+Tab OSX shortcut makes switching applications mouse-free and efficient. I mean, if Tim Ferriss is doing it

However, there’s always another ‘Application’ lurking in the Application Switcher - the notoriously trollsome Finder. There may be no Finder windows open, but it’s still there. Watching. Waiting for you to unwittingly switch to it and start typing. It has an insatiable thirst for keystrokes.

(Troll Finder image from getterdragon)

Worse yet, when you accidently switch to Finder and no Finder windows are open, you are provided little feedback with which to spot your error. Finder will become the app name at the top left of your screen, and both your browser and terminal will be blurred (generally a subtle effect).

That’s all you get. So you’ll continue typing, believing you’re focused on the app you want, and in fact your keystrokes are only whetting Finder’s appetite.

Suprisingly, I could not find a clear and concise how-to post on to alter this behavior. So I decided to write one up here.

1. Change the Finder.app Plist

First, open the plist file that corresponds to Finder:

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  sudo vi /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/Info.plist

Note: the sudo is required for write access to the file, and substitute vi with the text editor you’re most comfortable with.

Then add the following entry to the file you’ve opened:

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  <key>NSUIElement</key>
  <string>1</string>

Anywhere in the top-level dict node of the file will work - here’s an example of the new properties in the file:

Then save and quit; and make sure you don’t get any readonly or permissions warnings. If you used sudo, you shouldn’t.

2. Relaunch Finder

Next, relaunch finder by holding down Option and clicking on the Finder dock icon.

Choose Relaunch. Wait a few seconds.

3. Enjoy a troll-free lifestyle

Your Application Switcher should no longer contain Finder. Jumping out of windows has never been safer.

Furthermore

Should you need to open a Finder window again, just perform a Spotlight search and choose “Show All in Finder”.

Alternatively, you can use a pro-tool like Alfred to browse through folders. I prefer this method, and find Alfred to be the best in class. (My friend @dorkitude has a few extensions for it too, find them on github.)

Update: Believing this dilemma to be fairly common (though sadly tolerated) among developers using OSX, I submitted this post to Hacker News - if any discussion ensues you can find it here.

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