Tips/Howto: Refresh a Finder Window - Macenstein

Tips/Howto: Refresh a Finder Window

One of the few non-viral things Windows users have that Mac OS X users don’t is an easy way to refresh a Finder (Explorer) window. Their “refresh” command (located under their VIEW menu) is a handy way to update the contents of the open window to see changes that do not (for whatever reason) display automatically.

This non-updating of windows actually happens to me quite a bit in OS X. I find for the most part the refresh problems occur when an application is creating a new file, as opposed to when I create/move a file. For example, I was recently importing some video into a Flash CS3 project. After completing the imports, my folder looked like this (see below).

Above: Something’s missing. THREE somethings, actually.

Unfortunately, there SHOULD have been 3 new files there (2 flvs and a seekbar component). I knew they were there, but for whatever reason, the Finder window would not show them. Opening and closing the window did not make the appear.

Sometimes when this happens, merely waiting awhile will cause the files to appear. But the time needed to wait is arbitrary, and can vary anywhere a couple seconds to forever. Occasionally I have had success getting Finder windows to update by switching the view from List, to Column, to Icon, and back. I find column view has the best chance of displaying these “reluctant” files.

However sometimes, as in the case of my Flash problem, neither of these options worked. In these instances, I have discovered a way to force a Finder window refresh that seems to work every time.

The Solution

To get these files to appear, simply open the window that is giving you the problem, and then create a new blank folder in it (Command + Shift +N). This causes the Finder to update the window contents, and you should be good to go. Then just delete your blank folder.

Above: Ah HA! There those files are, thanks to my new “Untitled Fodler”!

11 Responses to “Tips/Howto: Refresh a Finder Window”
  1. Rob Schultz says:

    Sounds like a very weird bug that I’m glad I haven’t encountered yet.

    That being said, my former coworkers and I had a rule: whenever you learned something new at work you got to go home for the day.

    See you guys tomorrow!

  2. Will says:

    I have had this problem several times too, thanks for the tip. It would be great if there was a more ‘legitimate’ way of solving this problem other than creating an “Untitled Fodler” though 🙂

  3. cg says:

    Here is a more legitimate way (add it to your finder window tool bar):

    This hint is handy when Finder does not update its window contents after an application modifies a file, and clicking in the window does not update as it should. This hint serves the same purpose as F5 in Windows Explorer.

    1. Create the following Applescript

    tell application “Finder” to update items of front window
    end try

    2. Assign your new AppleScript to a hotkey using Butler
    1. Under Butler Configuration, Ccreate a new file item (command+N) within the Invisible items container.
    2. Set the path to the compiled AppleScript created in step 1.
    3. Set it to open with “Execute Applescript”
    4. Assign a hotkey (I assigned mine to command+option+`)

  4. Aresin says:

    Same problem occurred on my Desktop sometimes ago and I found same solution incidentally. As a matter of fact, it’s still going on once in a while.

    If a problem is ‘nonsense’, nonsense solutions generally works. Try kick the machine if you could’t take your coke!

    No, I do not suggest to kick your Mac 🙂

  5. A nicer way to do it “Refresh Finder” that can be downloaded here ==>
    No need to kick nothing nor nobody!

  6. Yong Hwee says:

    Refresh Finder works like a charm. Very useful.

  7. Jayson says:

    “That being said, my former coworkers and I had a rule: whenever you learned something new at work you got to go home for the day.

    See you guys tomorrow!”

    Since I work in research I usually learn something new after less than an hour (sometimes even in the first few minutes). Guess I’ll have to tell my boss I’m working much longer days than I need to!

  8. Phibo says:

    or just install FileUtils ( and you’ve got a nice ‘refresh’ command at your fingertips, i.e. in your context menu

  9. Mark says:

    Or one more solution is to grab the freeware “Toolbar Extras” at

    It has a nice working refresh button to add to the toolbar at the top of each finder windows and works fine- as well as some other extras that may come in handy.

  10. paolo says:

    …and is this a solution???? Apple should give us this feature…. it’s very useful.

  11. dfunkt says:

    “Refresh Finder” FTW! chillin like a villain…

Leave A Comment


Click here to inquire about making a fortune by advertising your game, gadget, or site on Macenstein.