Learning Finder – #6 Noob2Pro 1

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Learning Finder – #6 Noob2Pro

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I’m continuing on the quest to explain the major aspects of the Mac operating system and to turn any noob to a pro. Although they are currently simple posts, I have to teach the basics so everyone is at the same level. Today’s post (which should have been yesterday due to technical reasons this couldn’t happen) is about Finder. I am going to explain the interface and moving onto coverflow. Tomorrows post will build upon this an introduce quicklook.

The interface of Finder is one you should get used to. You will be using Finder a lot and I recommend you learn the in’s and out’s of it. A typical interface will look similar to the image below.



1) The next and back buttons. These buttons move you to the next and previous folder which you have visited. I personally don’t use them that frequently. Above these buttons is the close, minimise and maximise buttons. You can change there design in System Preferences Appearance > Appearance Drop down menu.

2) Thumbnail, List, Column, and Quicklook view. Each of these views are different. Thumbnail view is used to see large thumbnails of the file of folder you are looking at. List view is the one shown above. Column view is similar to list views side by side. Column view is very useful for moving files around.

The final button is cover flow. This is linked to Quicklook. When you press this button you are given the option to flick left and right through the files similar to looking through music files in iTunes. You can add support for other files by installing Quicklook plugins. More on this tomorrow.

3) The Quicklook button to access Quicklook of a file or folder. This is the same as pressing the space bar.

4) The extra tools buttons. You can access a couple of extra tools from this button.

5) Extra apps area. This is a small area which you can use to add applications and functions to your Finder toolbar. To add your own simply drag and drop any application into this area. If you want to customize it more right click on the tool bar and select customize.

All of the buttons on the toolbar can be customized. If you right click on the toolbar and select customize you can given many options to increase the functionality of your toolbar. The best way to increase functionality of this toolbar is to drag apps and scripts into this area. All can be used as drop boxes. For example you can drag an image onto an app and the image will open in the app.

6) The current folder. By default this would say “Desktop” or “My Folder”, so you can easily see which folder you are in. If you want to change it so it shows you your current path simply enter the following into Terminal and restart. To revert change YES to NO. In the Terminal post I will explain more about these type of Terminal commands.

defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool YES

7) Spotlight. The best search engine tool for searching your Mac. Enter any search term and you computer will find all of the files and folders relating to that search term. You can use operators such as “kind:image” to find images. A separate post in the next week will explain more on spotlight.

8) Hard drive & Devices. When you add a hard drive or a CD, iPod, or disk image to you computer it will appear here. This is a simple place to access all of these pieces of external media. You can use the flippy arrows to hide or show the areas. You can quickly access system information by right clicking and selecting Get > Info.

9) Network Drives. If you have any networked drives, disk or anything of a similar nature it will appear in the Shared area. It is very similar to the disk connected to your computer. Drives in this section will work in a similar methods to one’s connected to your Mac. Computers on your network will also appear in this areas. You can also navigate network files as if they were connected to  your Mac.

10) Places. A quick shortcut area for adding shortcuts to other places on your hard drive. These can be links to any part of your computer. Simply drag and drop the files or folders in this area. To remove them, drag the link off the sidebar.

11) The number of items in the folder and the amount of disk space left. As you can see, I don’t have a lot of disk space left.

12) Your actual files and folders. You can access a lot of information from this area, such as the name, size, date made. Clicking on the titles at the top can be used to re-arrange the files. List view is the most useful.

13) Hide toolbars. Although this number should have appeared earlier I couldn’t be bothered to re-arrange my list. This little button will hide/show you toolbars and sidebar when clicked. Gives you a cut down version of Finder.

You can customise Finder in a variety of different ways. The best way is to literally mess about. Try moving things about in the Finder windows. Adding applications to the side bar and tool bar, see if they are useful there.

One of the best ways to customise Finder is to have a look at the preferences locations under Finder > Preferences. Here you have plenty of options to customise.

finder preferences

I would like to draw your attention to the bottom option “Spring Loaded Folders”. When you drag stuff onto folders there will be a time delay before the folder opens. If you want to speed this up use the slider. I recommend something slightly longer the Short, since you want a small time delay before something happens.

Play around with Finder until you get a step up you like. If you want to find out more about customising Finder check out all of the posts tagged with Finder on MacTricksAndTips. If you want to do something specific just Google your question, odds are it has been asked before. In Snow Leopard the Finder is going to be changed about, I will have a post up about the changes when the time comes.


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