Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard): Show/Reveal in Finder now correctly selects item every time

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
November 13th, 2007 • 11:50 am

Show in Finder” is one of these cross-application commands that I personally use all the time. As a typical example, I find myself in iTunes and I have a track that I want not only to remove from my iTunes library, but also to delete from my hard drive altogether.

If the track in question is located inside my iTunes Music folder (as defined in the iTunes preferences, under “Advanced”), then I can do it all with a single keyboard shortcut: I just select the track in iTunes and press command-option-shift-Delete. This shortcut, unlike the regular Delete keyboard shortcut, does not just remove the track from the current playlist. It also removes it from all playlists and from the library itself. And, as an added bonus, if the track is located inside my iTunes Music folder, then iTunes shows a dialog that gives me the option to move the actual file to the Trash.

But I also have a great number of music files in my iTunes library that are actually located outside my iTunes Music folder. There are multiple reasons for this. One is that I like to keep my iTunes Music folder for ripped tracks from CD only, and to keep all the music files that I get from other sources (downloads, etc.) outside the iTunes Music folder, so that it is easier for me to know what to back up. (I don’t feel that I need to back up the tracks that were ripped from CD, because I still have them on CD if I really need them. Sure, having to re-rip hundreds of CDs would be a chore, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. That said, I do occasionally back up the entire iTunes Music folder of ripped tracks to another hard drive. I am just too lazy to back them up on optical media as well.) That is also why I have unchecked the option to “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library” in iTunes’s preferences.

Another reason why I have many music files outside my iTunes Music folder is that, like many other iTunes users I suspect, at some point I found that I had filled up the partition where my iTunes Music folder was located. So I had to change the iTunes Music folder location in iTunes’s preferences. But this does not move the existing files. It just defines the new location where newly ripped music files will be stored from now on. The “Consolidate Library…” command can be used to force iTunes to copy all the tracks in the old iTunes Music folder to the new one, but I don’t want to use this command, because it would also add all the files that I have in my library that are located outside my iTunes Music folder (the old one) to the new iTunes Music folder, and I definitely do not want that.

The bottom line here is that I have plenty of music tracks in my iTunes library that are located in various locations on my hard drives, and for those tracks the shortcut to delete the actual file from within iTunes does not work.

When the track that I want to delete is located outside my iTunes Music folder, then iTunes does not display this dialog and does not give me the option to move the file to the Trash. The command-option-shift-Delete shortcut still removes all traces of the track from my iTunes library and playlist, but the actual file stays in its location.

If I also want to delete the file, then the only solution here is to use the “Show in Finder” command in iTunes before deleting the track. I right-click on the track in iTunes and I select the “Show in Finder” command in the contextual menu. This switches me to the Finder and opens a new Finder window showing the file in question in its actual location.

Until 10.5, the problem here was that, at this particular stage, the Finder behaviour was not entirely consistent. Sometimes the Finder would open the enclosing folder of the file in a Finder window and select the actual file inside that folder. Other times, the Finder would just open the enclosing folder, but what would be selected in that Finder window would be the enclosing folder itself. In other words, it would show the contents of the folder containing the music file in question, but it would fail to show the actual music file itself by highlighting it as the selection. Instead, the only way to find the file was to scroll up and down the contents of the folder and try to find it “manually”—which, needless to say, was rather ridiculous.

The problem with this inconsistent behaviour wasn’t just a problem of inconvenience. It was actually downright dangerous. Since my expectation when using the “Show in Finder” command was that the Finder would open a new window showing the actual file and select that file, I developed the habit of just selecting “Show in Finder” and then pressing command-Delete in the Finder to move the file in question to the Trash.

But of course, in case where the Finder failed to select the actual file and selected the enclosing folder instead, using command-Delete would have the highly undesirable effect of moving the entire enclosing folder to the Trash!

So because of this inconsistency in the Finder’s behaviour after a “Show in Finder” command, I always had to be extra careful and make sure that the Finder had actually selected the file in question before pressing command-Delete.

The problem with this inconsistent “Show in Finder” behaviour was not limited to the “Show in Finder” command in iTunes. It actually affected the same command in various other applications, and it also affected the other shortcut that can be used from within a given application to show a document file in the Finder, which is to command-click on the document window’s title bar and choose the enclosing folder in the menu path. Here again, selecting the enclosing folder was supposed to open a window in the Finder showing the contents of the enclosing folder and to select the actual document file itself, but often times the Finder would fail to do the second half of the job.

Well, I am happy to report that, in Mac OS X 10.5’s Finder, this particular problem has finally been fixed. As far as I can tell, using the “Show in Finder” command or selecting the enclosing folder in a document window’s title bar consistently opens the enclosing folder in a Finder window and selects the actual file.

I had been waiting for this fix for a long time, so I am very glad that it’s actually included in 10.5, and I thought it was worth mentioning it here.

9 Responses to “Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard): Show/Reveal in Finder now correctly selects item every time”

  1. danridley says:

    Not only is this fixed in Finder, but Apple has added support for third-party applications to take over the “Show in Finder” hooks, so you can now use Path Finder for this, too.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Yes, it’s good news for those who want to use a Finder replacement.

  3. sjk says:

    Thanks for mentioning Show/Reveal in Finder is fixed in 10.5. I’ve used it frequently (and problematically) since 10.1 so it wouldn’t have taken long to notice that myself after upgrading. :)

    I just select the track in iTunes and press command-option-shift-Delete.

    A less contortionistic Option-Delete works for me as you described.

    Your clear distinction between the iTunes Library and its Music folder (and related preferences) is appreciated. Too often someone discussing the former really means the latter. Seems accuracy in general is increasingly losing importance.

    Consolidate Library… can be harmful when managing a library with large portions of content stored outside the iTunes Music folder location and the Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library preference disabled. And the iTunes Music folder location destination has to be large enough to hold iTunes Store downloads, which has finally become an issue for me. I’ll probably move the TV Shows hierarchy (mostly free downloads) to a different volume, hopefully preserving the library integrity for that content with a simple alias from the old to new location. I’ve been “lucky” not to get too many library entries orphaned from their content, though occasionally a few show up for no apparent reason.

  4. gamov says:

    Hello Pierre,
    This is my first post but I’m a long time reader. Your blog is actually very useful:
    Each time I have a rant about badly designed corners of Apple applications, I can find one of your posts and send the link in Apple Feedback pages… I just hope it helps…
    Regarding this post, I suggest the following script:
    Personally, I rate songs I want to delete with 1 star, then I go to a smart playlist listing 1 star songs on which I execute the script “Move to Trash” from Hubi scripts collection:
    Works like a charm! The only gotcha is that you cannot select too many songs to delete otherwise the script times out… I’m too lazy to go into the source to check where is the problem…

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    Thanks for your comments :).

    Your AppleScript-based solution works to a point. It’s good to have. However, I would prefer a “Whack Selected Tracks” solution. “What Current Track” requires the track to be not only selected, but actually currently playing.

    Your other solution is also interesting, although I would want something keyboard-based rather than mouse-based (rating a track), which I suppose can be achieved with another script and a keyboard shortcut.

    However, I should note that my experience with AppleScript in iTunes is that, while it works OK in most cases, it really is not very fast (although still faster in many cases than doing things manually). And indeed there are sometimes time-out issues that make it feel somewhat unreliable.

    But it’s good to have these additional options to explore. Thanks!

  6. danridley says:

    On the subject of rating with the keyboard, I’d like to put in a quick plug for Wincent Colaluta’s wonderful Synergy Classic, which is low on resource usage, cheap, and unobtrusive.

    I have 1-5 star ratings on Ctrl-Command-Option-1 to 5; and “no rating” on Ctrl-Command-Option-0. (Then I used Ctrl-Command-Option-[, ] and \ for Prev Track, Play/Pause, and Next Track.)

    It also puts a handy controller in the menu bar, with configurable visuals. I use Tabbed (from here.

  7. Pierre Igot says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, Dan. I have other utilities that let me control iTunes sytem-wide, but I’ll take a look.

  8. gamov says:

    Personally, I use the free version of SizzlingKeys ( for keyboard ratings, right inside the application I’m using. To me, it’s the best I’ve seen so far. My requirements are simple:
    – a keystroke to invoke a information bezel window
    – keystrokes for basic commands
    – keystrokes for rating

    What’s your favorite?

  9. Pierre Igot says:

    Cool, thanks for the link.

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