Mac OSX Finder: “The volume cannot be found”

Update 2011-07-11: In recent versions of Mac OS X, many users have been able to remove broken sidebar items simply by holding down the Command key while dragging the broken item out of the sidebar. (FYI, the original post is over four years old!)

I love Mac OS X, but every once in a while I manage to screw up one (or more) of the network folders I dropped into the sidebar. (On this particular occasion I changed my mind after I started opening a network folder and clicked “Cancel” on the keychain access prompt.) Now every time I click on the network folder in the sidebar of Finder I’m getting the following message: **The volume for “*network-folder-name*” cannot be found.**


I’ve had this happen before, but I can never remember how to fix it. A quick search turned up [this thread]( which suggests blasting the entire file, but that’s a bit harsh if you have a dozen folders in the sidebar and only one or two of them are broken! Instead I chose to edit the plist file and delete the broken folders.

Double-clicking on ~/Library/Preferences/ should open the Property List Editor. (If it doesn’t, see “to Diana” comment on this post.) Click on the exposure triangles for Root, useritems, and CustomListItems. Find the broken folder–they’re in the same order that they appear in the Sidebar. You can click the exposure triangle for a numbered item and see if the Name property matches your broken folder. Once you’ve selected the correction Dictionary item, click the Delete button:


Now if you open a new Finder window you’ll notice… That you still have the same problem. Doh! You need to restart Finder. Click on the “Apple” menu (top left of the screen) and choose “Force Quit…” (or just hit Apple-Option-Escape on the keyboard). Select the Finder application and hit the Relaunch button.

This doesn’t really *fix* the problem–the broken folder is gone, not repaired. But it’s better (imo) than whacking the entire Sidebar preferences file.

About Jim Vanderveen

I'm a bit of a Renaissance man, with far too many hobbies for my free time! But more important than any hobby is my family. My proudest accomplishment has been raising some great kids! And somehow convincing my wife to put up with me since 1988. ;)
This entry was posted in Mac OS X, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to Mac OSX Finder: “The volume cannot be found”

  1. I’m glade to see that I’m not the only one with this problem!

  2. Eric Sadoyama says:

    Great instructions. At first I wasn’t quite sure where to find the file, but I tried looking for “sidebarlists” with Spotlight and found it right away. Thanks!

  3. Jim says:

    Glad it was able to help you! That’s one of the reasons I wrote it up. (The other reason was so that I’d be able to fix this problem again next time it happens to me!)

  4. Diana says:

    I have a few items that are stuck to the sidebar, but I can’t seem to delete them. I opened the in OmniOutliner, but don’t see any of the items there…Actually, I don’t see anything there (Desktop, Applications, etc) Any ideas how to remove them? Thanks.

  5. Alan says:


    After trouble shooting and searching the web for a fix to no avail. Try this easy fix, It WORKED for me.





  6. Don says:

    Why have all this hassle – just drag the item off the side bar and “zap” it’s gone!!

    or am I being too simple??

  7. Jim says:

    (to Don): That’s how it’s *supposed* to work, but if you fubar the network connection (as I did) then the item doesn’t respond to dragging anymore–as soon as you mouse-down on the item it displays the “volume not found” error.

  8. Jim says:

    (to Diana): Don’t open it with OmniOutliner, use Property List Editor. If OmniOutliner is opening when you double-click on the sidebarlists.plist, control-click (or right-click) the file and select “Open With” from the context menu. Then select the Property List Editor as the application to open the file.

  9. Jim says:

    (to Alan): Are there any negative side effects to resetting PRAM? Also, does that fix the network folder(s) or trash them? Sounds like quite a finger-stretching exercise! 😉 (Apple key, Option, “R”, “P”, *and* the power button simultaneously?!?)

  10. Diana says:

    i can’t find the property list editor. it’s not under utilities in applications…

  11. Jim says:

    Ah, I think I know the problem… I’ve installed Apple’s Xcode toolkit, which includes the Property List Editor. Once Xcode is installed, the Property List Editor should be available as: (OSX disk)/Developer/Applications/Utilities/Property List Editor

    Xcode is a pretty big download, but there’s tons of useful stuff for Mac hackers in there. Only available to “registered developers”, but registration is free.

  12. Diana says:

    Thanks Jim. Is there a way to get rid of it without that? I tried copying one over from a computer that had nothing but the default on it, but that didn’t seem to work.

  13. Jim says:

    Diana, you can blast the whole plist. Go to your Library/Preferences directory and drag to the trash. I haven’t tried Alan’s suggesstion (reseting PRAM), but that may work also.

  14. ben says:

    i accidently removed my network button from my sidebar. now when i cant get it back on? i can go to “go” then “network” but nothing shows up. can you help?

  15. drew says:

    Force quit my finder worked great. Thanks a lot!

  16. If you click on the Finder menu — or type Command-comma while you are in the Finder — select Preferences, then click on Sidebar. This will show you a list of options for what to display on the sidebar. If Network is one of the options, click on its checkbox. If Network is not there, then I am out of my depth and somebody else will have to give you the answer.

    Lancelot Fletcher

  17. michael says:

    i typed then unchecked ‘network’ then re-checked it, and the ‘volume cannot be found’ problem seemed to go away immediately… but maybe my cause wasn’t the same as some others’ here…

  18. michael says:

    whoops: should have read “i typed cmd-, then unchecked..” — but was read and disappeared as a tag because i bracketed it with less-than and greater-than signs…

  19. Gary says:

    I tried command-comma, went to sidebar, de-selected ‘network’ then re-selected it and presto – it works.

  20. Joel says:

    This worked great for me. Thanks a lot. Coincidence that I had just downloaded Xcode for the first time yesterday. I tried opening the plist before installing xcode, and I too was looking at it in OmniOutliner thinking… how is this suposed to GTD my broken sidebar link???


    Thanks for the how-to.

  21. Sonja Ray says:

    Another thanks from sunny Florida – new Mac Pro, had my network connection working, then suddenly (shortly after installing Xcode), I was getting the “Volume not found” error. Editing the plist worked perfectly!

  22. Adam says:

    I might be misunderstanding what you guys are talking about, but if you have a volume on the side of your finder window that has a broken like, just drag the volume to your desktop, and poof, the file explodes in Mac Dust.

  23. troy says:

    uhh, there seems to be a much easier way….
    just open finder and go to Finder/Preferences
    un-check and re-check the Network (might have to do it a few times)

    POOF! network’s back
    worked for me anyway

  24. troy says:

    oh a few ppl already posted that – sry

  25. Jim says:

    @Adam: *Usually* that works. But if you really screw it up (like I did), then as soon as you click/drag on the sidebar item, you’ll get the “volume cannot be found” message–you don’t even get a chance to drag the thing out of the sidebar.

  26. Nick says:

    I fixed my issue by:
    Dragging the ‘Network’ icon off the sidebar
    Opening Finder preferences
    Re-Selecting ‘Network’
    (This is after re-booting both machines, the airport base station, repairing permissions, de-selecting and re-selecting personal file sharing – none of which worked)

  27. Betty says:

    Thanks for these instructions. They worked perfectly for me…..

  28. It simply works!? says:

    Wow, I’m sure glad I found this thread but the solutions discussed here seems to violate the rule of keeping things simple, doesn’t it? Isn’t there a simpler more elegant way than downloading a not-included-by-default-application in order to edit a plist file?

  29. Jim says:

    You’re absolutely correct–this isn’t “the Mac way”. Deleting the entire plist *does* work, and it’s much simpler than this, **but** you lose all of your sidebar items.

  30. Paul says:

    But why is this happening.

    It happens on my MBP with a new copy of leopard.

    I have shortcuts to a couple of folders on PCs and they keep failing.

  31. nico says:

    Deleted via plist, but sidebar folder persisted even after relaunch. Dragged onto desktop … gone … exploded into Mac dust (thanks Adam and Jim)

  32. taptetum says:

    Force Quitting the Finder brought my Network list back.

  33. John Blackwell says:

    Wow this is a great post. Had a folder sitting in the sidebar for a year and just decided not to worry about it. Nice to be clean again!

  34. Kel says:

    There’s a Plist Editor that works perfectly, just one small file and it’s free. Enjoy

  35. Lee says:

    Worked for me. Drug the offending item off the sidebar and it is gone. And after all that grief of trying to do some techno-solution.

  36. Pingback: How To Remove Stuck Sidebar Items in MacOS « Ambient Ideas’ Denver Dev

  37. Mike Gola says:

    Been wondering about this for a long while but never found the time to look. Every easy fix.
    Thanks very much!
    Mike Gola

  38. Yvette says:

    Thanks so much, I’ve had broken folders sitting there annoying me for weeks- this works a treat :))

  39. mousewhoroars says:

    Thank you so much. I go nuts when I nuts when I can’t fix things on my mac, you saved my sanity!

  40. Simon says:

    You should try this first (clicking and not releasing, then dragging):

    Comment number 8 at “”

    • rik says:

      Okay, thank you for posting this fix. I tried it, it worked, done! 2 years I’ve been staring at this problem and haven’t been able to fix it until now! Thank you so much!

  41. Pingback: OS 10.5 - Remove Custom Places from Sidebar -

  42. Casper says:

    I just clicked, held down the button, and then dragegd the folders i wanted to remove directly to my trash can, and peeeew gone 🙂

  43. Fabienne says:

    Thanks, for help. But I really did what you said but it didn’t work. The broken file is gone but when I open my finder it’s still there. I can’t click on it only drag. But anywhere I drag it.. it’s still there. What can I do?

  44. Fabienne says:

    woooow! it works, I’m so happy. Thank you! couldn’t imagine to live with something in my sidebar what didn’t work or was necessary. I restarted my computer and now it’s done. Thanks a lot!

  45. Visionprint says:

    I think they’ve hardened it a little since so many people were accidentally pulling things off.

    Hold down the command key and drag it off.

  46. Johnny Cosmo says:

    This isn’t working for me, so I just deleted the sidebarlist file and it still doesn’t work (and doesn’t even get rid of the other sidebar files. The sidebar item I have is a shortcut to a CD that I accidentally dragged onto there, ejected the CD and now I can’t delete the file. Re-inserted the CD to try and delete it but no.

    Any ideas?

  47. Johnny Cosmo says:

    Bah. Or I could just read the post above mine and have it work straight away…

    Yeah, forget my last comment.

  48. jakob T says:

    I didn’t work for me either. I cannot delete or erase my sidebar. I tried to modify and erase the sidebar plist-file. After relaunch of finder the icons are still there. What can I do?

  49. Julie says:

    @Kel. The Plist Editor worked perfectly for the couple of shortcuts I couldn’t delete. Thanks!

  50. Mandy says:

    I tried those instructions with PLEditor, deleting the folders that aren’t working, restarting Finder, but I still see the broken folders on my sidebar. I’m unable to drag them off the sidebar, or right-click on them.

  51. Mandy says:

    I should’ve read ALLLLL the posts here before asking the same question! Thank you Visionprint for suggesting “holding down the command key to delete sidebar items!” Such a simple thing – wish I would’ve thought of it!

  52. ray says:

    Thank you!!!

  53. Paul says:

    Thank you so much for this. It is an ancient post but still is perfectly legit. I had permanently deleted a file that I had unknowingly dragged into my sidebar at one point, and it was completely uneditable. Wasn’t even able to get a context menu. Your solution was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again.

  54. Muhammad Arif says:

    I think the author should update this post, using simple method by Visionprint:

    “Hold down the command key and drag it off”

    Thanks! 🙂

  55. JB says:

    Here’s what worked for me, as I don’t have the Playlist Editor. Select the file ~/Library/Preferences/ . Right click or control click and select “Get Info.” Under the heading of what to use to open the file, select a text editor, such as TexWangler or TextEdit. Now, double click on the file ~/Library/Preferences/ and it will open with the text editor you chose. You will see a long, long list of everything in your sidebar. Look for the name of the sidebar item you want to get rid of. Select the whole section from to and hit delete. You will need to reboot the computer in order for the sidebar item to be gone.

  56. Susana says:

    Press command while dragging the item out of the sidebar.

    I had the same problem (no longer existing files in the sidebar that couldn’t be deleted) and it worked fine.

  57. Cosmo says:

    Holding down the command key while dragging it worked for me.
    Strangely there was no “” in my Library/Preferences folder?

    • Pedro says:

      it worked for me like a charm, none of the methods above did. there is no such file on my Mac like, neither spotlight nor search can find it

  58. Cosmo says:

    Ok found it!
    It’s in the “User Account”/Library/Preferences not the root Library folder of course

  59. Jose Marcio Machado says:

    It worked for me:
    “Hold down the command key and drag it off”

    Lost couple of hours trying to remove it ! 😉

    Thanks !

  60. Pingback: Glenn J. Lea Technical Communications » Removing dead links on a Mac Sidebar

  61. I had the same problem that some other people had: not being able to command-select-drag the broken sidebar item. So I went to Finder preferences, and the list of items to show in the sidebar. I unchecked every item in that list. That meant only the broken item was left visible in the sidebar… and then I had no problem with selecting it and dragging it away!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *