Change the default new folder name

When you create a new empty folder in OS X (Shift-Command-N), it’s created with the name untitled folder . I have a couple problems with this naming convention. The first problem, which is admittedly minor, is that the name makes no logical sense. If a folder has a name (any name), how can it be untitled? Minor, I know, but it disturbs my sense of logical correctness.

The more important problem is that immediately after creating a new untitled folder , if you don’t rename it immediately, it may vanish into a long list of existing folders—if not renamed, it will sort, obviously, between ‘t’ and ‘v’ in a list- or column-view window. There are times when I create a number of new folders first, then go back and rename them, and it’s those times where I really dislike the untitled folder naming convention. I’d rather have the new folders clump together at the top or bottom of the window, ready for me to rename when I choose to do so.

With just a bit of mucking about in the Finder’s internals, you can set the default name for new folders to anything you like. In the Finder, navigate to /System -> Library -> CoreServices. In the CoreServices folder, Control-click on Finder and choose Show Package Contents from the pop-up menu. In the new window that opens, navigate into Contents -> Resources -> English.lproj. The file we’re going to modify is named Localizable.strings, and the first thing we’re going to do is make a backup copy of the file. Do that by dragging Localizable.strings to the Desktop; since you don’t have rights to modify the English.lproj folder, the Finder will automatically copy, and not move, the file.

The next step is to modify Localizable.strings to reflect our desired new folder name. If you have Smultron, TextWrangler (both free), or another text editor that’s capable of authenticating changes to system files, that’s the easiest way to edit this file—you can work directly on the version of Localizable.strings within the English.lproj folder. If you’re using TextEdit, though, you’ll have to work on the copy you created on the desktop—TextEdit won’t allow you to save your changes directly into the English.lproj folder. If that’s the case, make another copy of the Localizable.strings file and keep that copy as a backup.

Drag and drop Localizable.strings (remember to use the copy on the Desktop if you’re using TextEdit) onto your editor of choice, and search for the words untitled folder . In my file, the match is found on line 182, which looks like this:

"N2" = "untitled folder";

All you need to do is change the text within the double-quotes to whatever you’d like to use. In my case, since I want these folders to float to the top of a list, I start the name with a space. Then, to make it visually obvious, I surround it with some special text characters:

"N2" = " »» New folder ««";

You can use whatever words and symbols you wish; just make sure you don’t remove the quotation marks or the line-ending semicolon. When you’re done, save your changes. If you’re using Smultron or TextWrangler, you’ll be asked to authenticate as an admin user, since you’re modifying the file directly within the Finder.app bundle. If you’re using TextEdit, save your changes and copy the modified file from the Desktop back into the English.lproj folder. You’ll be asked if you want to replace the existing file, and then asked to authenticate.

To make your changes take effect, you need to restart the Finder. There are many ways to do this; the cleanest is probably to use Activity Monitor (in /Applications -> Utilities). Find the entry for Finder in the list of Processes, click on it once, then click the Quit Process button in the toolbar. Press the Quit button in the next dialog, then click the Finder icon in the Dock to restart the Finder. (If you modified the file using TextEdit and then dragged it back into the English.lproj folder, you might also want to run Disk Utility’s Repair Permissions feature to reset the ownership and permissions on the file; if you edited it in place using another editor, the permissions should be fine.)

Once the Finder has relaunched, press Shift-Command-N to create a new folder, and revel in your newly-customized empty folder naming scheme. Of course, since this is a file within the system, there’s always a chance that a given system update will overwrite your changes—so if things suddenly go back to normal after OS X 10.4.whatever is released, don’t be too surprised. Thankfully, the change is relatively easy to apply again.

Subscribe to the Best of Macworld Newsletter

Comments