Hide Time Machine's icon in the Finder

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As much as I love Time Machine in OS X 10.5—I’ve already used it a number of times to recover from various PEBKAC errors—there’s one thing about it that I don’t really like: the fact that it’s visible in the Finder. Sure, sometimes it’s nice to drill down directly into the drive to find a file…but now that I have months of backups there, that’s become quite tedious, so I don’t do it very often.

There are two main downsides to having the Time Machine volume visible in the Finder. First, it takes up space in the Sidebar for something I’ll almost never click on. That problem, of course, is easily fixed—just drag the volume out of the sidebar.

The second problem, though, doesn’t have quite as simple of a fix. If you like to show your available hard drives on the desktop, you’ll see your Time Machine drive there amongst all the rest. Again, unless you manually access your Time Machine backups, this icon is just taking up space. Getting rid of it isn’t all that difficult, though—you just need to make the drive invisible. If you have the Developer Tools installed, you can do this quickly in Terminal with this command:

SetFile -a V "/Volumes/Time_Machine_drive_name"

Replace Time_Machine_drive_name with the actual name of your Time Machine drive, then press Return. To see the changes take effect, you’ll need to restart the Finder. The cleanest way to do this is to logout and login, or you can use Activity Monitor, Terminal (killall Finder), or my personal favorite, the Finder’s Dock icon (press and hold Option, then click and hold on the Finder icon in the Dock and select Relaunch from the pop-up menu). If you want the disk to show up again, repeat the above command, but change the upper-case V to a lowercase v (SetFile -a v....).

But there’s a less geeky way to hide your Time Machine drive, and make it easily visible again—all without touching Terminal. Open Script Editor, in your Applications -> AppleScript folder, and enter the following code:

quit application "Finder"
tell application "System Events" to ¬
    set visible of disk "TMBackup" to false
delay 1
launch application "Finder"

Replace Time_Machine_drive_name with the name of your Time Machine drive, leaving the quotation marks (as this handles drives with spaces in their names). Choose File -> Save As, name the program something like Hide TM Drive, pick a save location, set the File Format pop-up to Application, then click Save. (Leave your Script Editor window open for now; we’re going to use it again in a minute.) To hide your Time Machine drive, just double-click this program. The Finder will quit and restart, and poof, no more Time Machine volume.

But what if you want it back? Simple; we’ll create another application to bring it back. Just edit the script you just created, and change false at the end of the second line to true. Now use File -> Save As again, set the File Format pop-up to Application, and name this one something like Show TM Drive.

Hiding and showing your Time Machine drive is now but a couple of mouse-clicks away—and if there are any AppleScript wizards out there, this could be further simplified if we could read the value of the drive’s visibility first; one program could then just toggle the state from hidden to visible or vice-versa.

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