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4. Disappearing Sidebar

Menu items should do what they say they will do and not have unintended consequences. Case in point: if you choose View > Hide Toolbar (Option-Command-T), not only does the toolbar disappear but so too does the Sidebar (see Figure 4). This isn’t the behavior described by the menu item, and it can leave users confused when the Sidebar disappears unexpectedly.

Figure 4

Figure 4 Hiding the toolbar: before (left) and after (right). Why did the Sidebar disappear, too?

There’s no technical reason to treat the toolbar and Sidebar as inseparable. The Sidebar works fine even if you have removed all items in a customized toolbar, and it’s possible to hide the Sidebar while leaving the toolbar visible. This flaw could easily be fixed by adding a separate Show/Hide Sidebar item in the View menu to allow users to toggle the toolbar and Sidebar independently.

This new menu item would also fix a related problem. If you double-click the thin gray bar that separates the Sidebar from the columns to the right, the Sidebar (but not the toolbar) disappears. OK, in reality, it collapses to the left, but it happens so fast that it effectively disappears in the blink of an eye.

Only the most observant of users will discover the tiny little indent in the left border of the window, which is the sole visual affordance indicating that you can make the Sidebar reappear by dragging it open or by double-clicking the border. By adding a separate Show Sidebar item in the View menu, users would have a much more explicit method of restoring the Finder window to its previous setting.

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