Change folder color to show there are subdocuments present


I am making an outline in the binder using loads of folders for different topics. I have also put documents inside some of these folders. I would like it if the folder changed color from blue to something else to show that there is a document inside it, so that I can see which elements of the outline I have populated with text and which I haven’t yet. Is there any way to make a folder icon change color once it has documents inside it, please? Thank you!


I can think of a few options that might suit you better:

  • Consider using files instead of folders. If you want a visual indicator, present in all contexts, that a thing has child items, then you get this for free with file groups:

[size=80]When nesting files beneath other files, the icon changes to a stack of paper.[/size]

You don’t have to redo anything to try this out! Select all of your folders and use the Documents ▸ Convert ▸ to File menu command (and the inverse of that if you don’t like how it looks). If you like it, you might also want to make it so that stacked files act like folders (loading as a corkboard or whatever when clicking on them, etc.), by enabling Treat all documents with subdocuments as folders, in the Behaviors: Folders & Files preference pane.

This is my preferred approach. For all of the outline hierarchy in my projects, a good 90% of it is probably composed of nested files. I use folders sparingly—for major separation, where I’m looking to visually break apart a larger list with a distinctive icon.

  • This approach will not help in a universal sense, but if you are primarily looking to have this information available in the binder, then try the View ▸ Outline ▸ Show Subdocument Counts in Binder menu toggle.

[size=80]Empty folders show no counter.[/size]

As you can see with the Draft folder, all child items are tallied up.

  • If you are wondering why the folders are white in my screenshot, that leads to the third option—one I’m not a fan of but you might like it if you really want the colour to change. The View ▸ Use Label Color in ▸ Icons menu toggle will do just what you think. Now you can colour a folder green directly, and might be useful for certain status oriented signals like this. Of course the downside is that you have to change the label by hand whenever you put stuff into any folder.