Removing stuck Finder sidebar items in OS X Lion and Snow Leopard

Having trouble removing some pesky icons that have gotten stuck in the Finder’s sidebar? If you’re on Lion or Snow Leopard, the solution is easy:

  1. Click on the folder and drag it away from the sidebar
  2. Before you let go of the mouse button, hold down the Command (⌘) key
  3. Now that you’re holding down the Command (⌘) key, release the mouse button
  4. The icon should now finally disappear from your sidebar in a puff of smoke
  5. Hooray!

(Credit: Hybridair at MacRumors Forums)

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119 thoughts on “Removing stuck Finder sidebar items in OS X Lion and Snow Leopard”

  1. Thank you so much for posting this tip. I must have tried a fifty times to get rid of the folder that was stuck in my finder, but it wouldn’t go away. I just read another blog that recommended a command line solution, but since I just installed Lion and the post was dated April 2011, I didn’t want to mess something up. So thank you. Your tip worked like a charm.

  2. You’re welcome, glad it helped! It seems to be reproducible by deleting a file or folder after you’ve put it in the sidebar — Finder just doesn’t know how to react. I guess holding down the command key forces Finder not to care…

  3. Damn, thanks so much, but it’s so annoying – I’ve wasted a whole evening on this!!! Cheers

  4. I’ve had a jpg stuck in my sidebar for months now – I didn’t even want it there in the first place :D

    I was convinced that I had tried your tip when I read it, obviously not though.

    I’m pretty sure you used to be able to get that little puffy cloud just by dragging items away, without the cmd key. Just like the dock. Anyway, thanks.

  5. Very nice! I had seen a few tips before related to lion that involved either Terminal commands or manipulating or even deleting preference files in the Library… glad it wasn’t that hard :)

  6. B.E.A. – utiful. Looks like your tip made it to the top of Google if someone searches “mac os x lion, sidebar.” Thanks google, and thank you Mr. Russell.

  7. Glad this is helping so many of you. :)

    I often end up accidentally putting things in the sidebar because it’s the same keyboard shortcut as to create a new tab in most web browsers: Cmd-T. If I have Finder at the front instead of my browser, items mysteriously appear in my sidebar and I don’t notice for a while (by which time the file may have long since been moved/deleted, in which case this trick is required to make the items go away).

  8. I have a problem with the finder. It’s stuck in a restore windows loop. Can anybody help me, pls?

    I’m geting nervous :)

    Thanks

  9. Wow. That was so incredibly easy. Yet I couldn’t figure that out for the life of me. Thought I was going to have to use some Terminal command! Nope, just the command button. Thanks.

  10. Awesome tip, thank you so much!

    Might you know how to resolve duplicate apps after upgrading to Snow Leopard and then Lion recently? I may have caused the issue by before installing the new systems, organizing my apps into folders i.e. Backup, Security, & Storage and ended up w/ 2 Time Machine apps- the app in the folder is an older version and the new app is in the general list of apps. I tried deleting and moving Time Machine (and other apps in sorted into other folders), but I get the warning popup: “Time Machine.app” can’t be modified or deleted because it’s required by Mac OS X. Any ideas on how to resolve? Any advice you may have would be greatly appreciated!

  11. I was so excited to try this, but alas it didn’t work for me! A folder shortcut was put there during migration , but the shortcut doesn’t work and I can’t remove it from the sidebar. Even the icon is messed up – it should be a folder but it looks like a document icon. So frustrating!

  12. Thank you so much for this tip! Some items were stuck for almost six months! And now they are finally gone! :-)

  13. Best tip ever! You are a genius. I’ve had this problem a few times where things end up in the finder. Who would have known a simple hold of the command button when dragging out would FINALLY make these items disappear!! I have to make sure to pound this tip into my brain now because this was one of the most frustrating little pesky issues I have.
    many many many thanks

  14. thank you so much! was trying to get rid of somethings for about a month! thanks to your tip i finally did! thank you very much,

  15. That was awesome. Thanks. Funny thing is, I saw your link in the top 5 search results but accidentally clicked the one above yours which took me to the Apple website. As the page was loading I thought to myself “well this is going to be a useless answer” and you know what? The page doesn’t even exist on Apple’s site any more! Ha! Thanks for a simple answer to an easy fix. It actually wasn’t as intuitive as the manufacturer prides themselves on being.

  16. Wonderful! This had been driving me round the bend and I’d tried everything to get rid of the ^%$@ thing! Thanks enormously – the world is now ever so slightly a better and happier place!

  17. Great, thanks!! I’d been browsing forums and editing .plist files for half an hour before giving up. Who would’ve thought that Apple built in a hidden feature there…

  18. Thank heavens – Apple no help – you offer a ray of light fomr something so simple, but so complicated by Apple!

  19. I sound like everyone else in your comments but Thank you for getting the thorn out of my side—so SIMPLE but making me so NUTS! Obviously many of us like a cleaned up work space.
    Now how to make the Finder window permanently open wide enough to show file names when there’s plenty of room instead of always being smuched into narrow columns. I’m forever having to drag them wider to see the file name.

  20. thanks – nice fix! was frustrting me. I was searching to find a command line solution but this is quicker and prettier

  21. Yeeeahhhhh thanks …. I thought i was going crazy . Normally i just grab and poof!!!! This little trick put some closure

  22. OMG That was SO HELPFUL! I’ve had a stuck icon there for A YEAR! So ironic how simple the solution was.

  23. Thanks–you can’t imagine how long this has been bugging me. (Especially since the stuck file in question was an application for a job I didn’t get, so each time I looked at it grated on me all the more!)

  24. Thank you so much for this information. As the others have already written, an irritant that just wouldn’t go away…. now gone. Again, Thank you.

  25. Thanks! I’d periodically try to drop the file in the trash in the hopes one day it would miraculously disappear. Your tip finally did the trick! Yoohoo!

  26. AAAH! HAHAHAH! I LITERALLY WENT “POOF” in a CLOUD OF SMOKE!

    Like “Vamoose sunovab*tch”

    Amazing. It’d been bugging me like a thorn in my side for weeks. Thanks!

    .z

  27. THANK YOU. I lost a disk today and a sym-link/alias to a folder on said disk stubbornly refused to be removed from the finder sidebar, as if to mock me …

  28. We are an all mac using company and no-one has been able to find the solution!! My mac cred has just shot up 100% – thank you!!

  29. Thanks so much for the tip! I didn’t realize those stray links were bugging me that much, but man that’s a lot better.

  30. Apparently a frequent problems with the Mac. Recommended solutions on-line (for example, at the users blog at apple.com) involve complications such as modifying the .plist file with Xcode. But yours is simple, and it worked! Thanks.

  31. I love how easy this was, and I agree, thankfully your solution was the way apple’s were intended to work…. simply and user friendly!

    Thank you!!! an easy spot in a hard day!

  32. My stubborn sidebar items will not even react when clicked on. It’s like their untouchable. You can’t drag them anywhere, with or without the command key. :(

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