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Using the Finder on Your Mac

Make the Best Use of the Finder


The Finder is the heart of your Mac. It provides access to files and folders, displays windows, and generally controls how you interact with your Mac.

If you're switching to the Mac from Windows, you'll discover that the Finder is similar to Windows Explorer, a way to browse the file system. The Mac Finder is more than just a file browser, though. It's a road map to your Mac's file system. Taking a few minutes to learn more about how to use and customize the Finder is time well spent.

Make the Most of the Finder Sidebar

Finder - Using the Finder on Your Mac

The Finder Sidebar, which is the pane on the left side of every Finder window, provides quick access to common locations, but it's capable of much more. Learn how to use and configure the Finder Sidebar.

Use Finder Labels to Organize Your Files and Folders

Finder - Using the Finder on Your Mac

Finder labels are color-coded methods of organizing files and folders. Use different colors for various types of files, and you'll be able to find things much more quickly.

Configure Spring-Loaded Folders

Spring-loaded folders make it easy to drag and drop files. Learn how to configure your folders so they spring open when you want them to.

Using the Finder Path Bar

Finder - Using the Finder on Your Mac

The Finder Path Bar is a small pane located at the bottom of a Finder window. It displays the current path to the file or folder shown in the Finder window.

Unfortunately, this nifty feature is turned off by default. Learn how to enable your Finder Path Bar.

Customize the Finder Toolbar

Finder - Using the Finder on Your Mac

The Finder Toolbar, a collection of buttons located at the top of every Finder window, is easy to customize. In addition to the Back, View, and Action buttons already present in the Toolbar, you can add functions such as Eject, Burn, and Delete.

Learn how to quickly customize your Finder Toolbar.

Using Finder Views

Finder views offer four different ways of looking at the files and folders stored on your Mac. Most new Mac users tend to work with only one of the four Finder views: Icon, List, Column, or Cover Flow. Working in one Finder view may not seem like a bad idea. After all, you will become very adept at the ins and outs of using that view. But it’s probably much more productive in the long run to learn how to use each Finder view, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each view.


Setting Finder Views for Folders and Sub-Folders

In this guide, we're going to look at how to use the Finder to set specific Finder view attributes, including:

How to set a system-wide default for which Finder View to use when a folder window is opened.

How to set a Finder view preference for a specific folder, so that it always opens in your preferred view, even if it is different from the system-wide default.

We will also learn how to automate the process of setting the Finder view in sub-folders. Without this little trick, you would have to manually set the view preference for each and every folder within a folder.

Finally, we will create some plug-ins for the Finder so you can set views more easily in the future.

Find Files Faster Using Spotlight Keyword Searches

Finder - Using the Finder on Your Mac

Keeping track of all of the documents on your Mac can be a difficult task. Remembering file names or file contents is even more difficult. And if you haven't accessed the document it's in recently, you may not remember where you stored a particular piece of valuable data.

Luckily, Apple provides Spotlight, a pretty fast search system for the Mac. Spotlight can search on file names, as well as the contents of files. It can also search on keywords associated with a file. How do you create keywords for files? I'm glad you asked.

Zoom Into a Finder Preview Image

Zoom Into a Finder Preview Image

When you have the Finder view set to column display, the last column in a Finder window displays a preview of a selected file. When that file is an image file, you will see a thumbnail of the image.

It's nice to be able to quickly see what an image looks like, but if you want to see any details in the image, you'll have to open the file in an image editing application. Or will you?

One nifty Finder feature that is often overlooked is the ability to zoom in, zoom out, and pan around an image when in column view.

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