Finder is the essential tool on macOS and the one that opens up first when you start your computer. It offers various tools to help you organize your documents, media, folders, and other files. In this article, you’ll learn more about Finder and the steps you can take to make it more beneficial to your workflow.
What is the Finder?
Finder, represented by the familiar face icon shown below, features the Finder menu bar at the top of the screen and the desktop below it. It offers windows and icons to show you the contents of your Mac, iCloud Drive, and other storage devices.
The basic concept behind Finder hasn’t changed significantly since the introduction of the first Mac in the 1980s. Decades later, the tool is still responsible for the overall user management of files, disks, and network volumes on Mac.
In the Finder itself, you’ll find links to your favorite folders and locations on the left side of the screen in the sidebar. On the right side, you’ll see the content. Double-click on any document, app, or another file to open it.
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What has changed about Finder over the years is the number of ways you can view and access your files using the tool. Just in the past few years, for example, Apple has introduced Quick Actions and Stacks, for example.
Change the View
You can change how files are displayed in Finder windows using the View menu in the menu bar. The choices include as icons, in a list, in columns, or as a gallery. All four views also allow you to sort the content by kind, date, or size.
To adjust the look:
- Click on the Finder icon on the macOS toolbar.
- Find your file location on the Sidebar.
- At the top of the screen, check on your preferred view.
Icon View, the default file view in macOS, allows you to arrange icons in custom patterns to suit your tastes. This view is ideally suited for those folks who appreciate a graphical view.
If your icons get messy, you can use the built-in cleanup tool:
- Right-click inside Icon View.
- Select Clean Up By and choose how you want the icons sorted, such as by name, data modified or size.
- Your default setting is available under the Clean Up option.
The alternative List View arranges your files like a shopping list. This view is ideal if you’re looking for more than the file icon.
By default, List View shows each item’s size, kind, and modification date. For sorting purposes, you can click on the header for any column in the list. When you right-click anywhere on the header, you can modify the columns. In the following example, List View includes each item’s size, date modified, date created, and size.
The Column View in Finder displays items within the Finder’s file hierarchy. In doing so, you can see the nested structure where the file, folder, or app lives. In the following example, you’ll see a folder called AppleToolBox under Downloads. Within this file, I’ve highlighted an image file called IMG_0881.PNG, which you can see in the Preview pane.
Note: The Gallery View is perhaps the most genius and is ideally suited for looking at images. When clicking on a file, you’ll see more information about it on the right side of the screen under the Preview pane.
For example, when viewing an image in Gallery view, you can learn about its creation date and modified date, resolution, color profile, and more. From this screen, you can also add Quick Actions, which you’ll learn more about below. (Galley View replaced Cover Flow in macOS Mojave.)
About the Preview Pane
You can see the Preview pane on each view mentioned above. To turn this on, go View > Show Preview from the menu bar. You can also use Shift-Command-P to show or hide the Preview pane on the fly.
In macOS Mojave, Apple added more information you can view on the Preview pane, depending on the type of file. For example, you can see detailed metadata, which is useful for photos and media.
Click Choose View > Preview Options from the Finder menu bar to select the information the Preview pane will show for the type of file.
Quick Actions in the Preview Pane
A new feature in the Preview pane is the introduction of Quick Actions. With these, you can initiate an action for a file without opening it or an app. The Quick Actions appear at the bottom of the Preview pane and change depending on the type of file. You can also click on the More icon to customize this further.
Some of the Quick Actions in macOS include Rotate an Image, Markup, Trim, and more.
You can customize each of the Finder views mentioned above. To do, click View > Show View Options from the Finder on the menu bar. The options vary based on the view selected. For example, For example, under Icon View, you can adjust the icon size, grid space, and text size, among other settings. Meanwhile, under Galley View, you can change the thumbnail size, and more.
Another new feature introduced in macOS Mojave, Stacks, makes it easier to organize your files on your desktop. Although you might not think of the Mac desktop as part of Finder, this is where you turn on Stacks for the first time.
To use Stacks:
- From the Finder menu bar, choose View > Use Stacks. You can also right-click anywhere on the desktop and then select Use Stack from the shortcut menu.
- By default, you group Stacks by the kind of file, such as images, PDFs, presentations, screenshots, and more. To further customize, choose View > Group Stack By from the menu bar. You can change Stacks to sort by date modified, tag, or other categories.
Here’s a before and after look at using Stacks:
Customization at its Best
There’s plenty of customization you can do with the essential Finder tool in macOS. In doing so, you can make it better match your tastes and improve your overall workflow. Do you have any tips on how to enhance Mac workflow? Let us know below.