Mac OS X Tiger/Advanced Finder Tricks

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Introduction[edit]

Customizing the Toolbar[edit]

Like many toolbars in Mac OS X, the Finder toolbar is customizable. To customize the toolbar, right click it and choose "Customize Toolbar...".

A sheet appears, showing all of the buttons and controls you can add to the toolbar. You can add and remove buttons simply by dragging and dropping them on to and off of the toolbar.

Buttons you can add to your toolbar are:

  • Eject - Too lazy to reach over a few inches and press the eject key on your keyboard? This toolbar button does the same thing.
  • Burn - A remnant of pre-Tiger CD Burning, this burns the files you've chosen to the CD or DVD. These days, a similar button is offered above the files themselves, so this button isn't useful anymore. For information on burning discs, please see the next chapter.
  • Customize - This allows you to customize your Finder toolbar - just like you are doing now.
  • Separator - This draws a faint dotted line between two sets of Finder buttons, keeping your toolbar nice and organized.
  • Space - This puts a button-sized chunk of blank space between two icons.
  • Flexible Space - Similar to "Space", Flexible Space stretches to push the icons on one side to the left of the toolbar, and the icons on the other to the right side. Use it to align toolbar buttons to your liking.
  • New Folder - This button creates a new folder nested inside the current one.
  • Delete - This button moves the selected file into the Trash.
  • Connect - Opens a "Connect to Server" dialog, which you'll learn about in Chapter 9.
  • Get Info - This displays the same "Info" window you see when you right-click a file and choose "Get Info".
  • iDisk - Now mostly replaced by the sidebar, this button takes you to your iDisk.

If you mess up your toolbar and wish to return it to its default, factory-fresh state, drag the entire default set into the bar, and it will replace what you currently have.

Below the buttons is a pop-up menu for choosing if you want your buttons labeled. In fact, you can dispense with buttons entirely and show only the labels. A checkbox next door specifies the label size.

When you've finished customizing, click "Done", and the sheet will roll back into the toolbar. Your customizations are applied to all Finder windows.

Get Info[edit]

The "Get Info" window is a very useful tool, allowing you to view metadata for the current file or folder. Metadata is data about the file's actual data: when it was last opened, how big it is, etc.

There are three ways to access the Get Info window:

  • Choose File > Get Info in the menu bar
  • Select the file you want info about and press ⌘I
  • Right click on the file you want info about and select "Get Info" from the contextual menu

The Get Info window is partitioned into sections by headings with flippy triangles to their left. You can show or hide a section by clicking the flippy triangle next to the section's heading. The different sections are described below.


  • Spotlight Comments - This field lets you type comments about the file. These comments are seen by Spotlight, so you can find files by the comments you made about them.
  • General - This section lets you view information that applies to every file, such as where it is located, how big it is, and when it was created. If the object is a "volume" (disc), the General section will also display the disc's capacity, availible space, and used space. The General section also allows you adjust a couple of the file's settings:
    • Color Label - You'll learn about color labels later on in this chapter.
    • Stationery Pad - This checkbox turns a document into a virtual stationary pad - when you open it, the appropriate application creates a new blank document and fills it with the contents of the file, but leaves the actual file untouched. This is useful for letterheads and templates.
    • Locked - Checking this box makes the file impossible to edit or modify in any way - until you uncheck this box, that is.
  • More Info - This contains information specific to a certain type of file - who wrote a song file, or how many pixels are in an image file.
  • Name and Extension - This section contains a text field that lets you change the file's name and "extension" (type). Extensions are appended to the end of a file's name, so that an HTML file called "Sample" is written as "Sample.html". In general, it's best not to change a file's extension, since the data will usually be unrecognizable in its new form. Also note that some file types, like Adobe Photoshop files, use less obvious extensions such as "psd". Make sure you know the correct extension for a file before you change it. Below this field is a checkbox that lets you hide the file's extension from view in the Finder. Some people like to keep this option on, since it makes Finder windows much less cluttered. Files named without a file extension may open on a Macintosh just fine, in an appropriate application. Accordingly, some users prefer to always have file extensions displayed, so as to be sure files will open correctly on other computer operating systems which rely on file extensions.
  • The "Open With" pop-up menu below the name and extension field lets you choose the application the file opens in by default. A button below sets all files of the same type to open with this application.
  • Preview - The Preview section contains either the file's icon, a thumbnail of an image, a snippet of text, or a QuickTime Player that lets you sample a sound or video file.
  • Ownership & Permissions - This advanced section lets you modify file permissions. Steer clear of this section unless you're troubleshooting, which is covered in the appropriate appendix.

Duplicates and Aliases[edit]

A duplicate of a file can be made by ^-click (or right clicking if you have a mighty mouse) and selecting duplicate from the menu. This process will create an entirely new file near the original.

It is also possible, however, to make an alias. An alias is a linking file, similar to a shortcut for Windows users, which, when selected, will open the original file regardless to where the alias is placed. To make an alias follow the same steps as you would to make a duplicate but select 'Make Alias' in the menu. A second file will be created near the original with a small arrow in the lower left corner to show that it is an alias. This can now be moved to wherever it is required.

Archives[edit]

Archives are basically files containing other files. Think of it as a box which can hold items together. It is usually used as a means of transfering files to other people as sending one file is easier than sending several. To create an archive of a couple of files, select them using the mouse and right-click on any one of them. In the menu that pops up, choose "Create archive of X items" where X is the amount of files/folders you selected. The files you selected will be copied into an archive file.

Archives created in the Finder this way are .zip files and can be opened on Windows but archives can be of various other formats, some not supported by Finder (for example .rar).

Packages[edit]

Automator[edit]

Slideshows[edit]

Exporting your slideshow to iDVD: You can transfer a slideshow, including its background music and transition effects, directly from iPhoto to iDVD to create a DVD slideshow. To export your slides to iDVD, select an Album or Slideshow, go to the Share menu and select Send to iDVD.

Folder Actions[edit]

View Options[edit]

Burning Discs[edit]

Burning Discs (CD-R/CD-RW and even DVD-/+ for superdrives) is simple in Mac OS X. Simply insert a blank disk and drag files to it. Instead of ejecting the disk, click "burn" to complete the burn.

If you want to burn multiple copies of a disk, you can create a Burn Folder. Simply ^-click (or right click) on the destop and select 'New Burn Folder' from the menu. This will create a folder labled 'Burn Folder' on the destop. The next step is to drag the files/videos/pictures/documents etc that you wish to copy into the folder (The original files will remain in the positions as Mac OS only creates alias's within the burn folder). Now in the top right corner of the burn folder there is a button labled burn, click it. A message will come up telling you to insert a disc with at least ***mb of memory, when the disc is inserted and found to be in order another message will come up asking for the burn speed and a name for the disc, enter your preferences at click ok. Now sit back and relax for the disc to be burnt.

Screenshots[edit]

Mac OS X offers several means to take a screenshot:

Using Mac OS keyboard shorcuts:

  • shift-command-3 will capture the full screen, and place screenshot files on the desktop. If you work in a multi-screen configuration, one file will be created for each screen.
  • shift-command-4 will allow you to capture part of the screen: after pressing those three keys, your cursor will become a small crosshair, and you will be able to select the region of the screen to capture. If you press the space bar, the cursor will become a camera, with which you may select a window to be captured (including the windows used for menus, the menubar, desktop icons etc). The item to capture will be highlighted as you pass your mouse over it.

If you hold the control key (ctrl) while taking the screenshot, the resulting image will be placed into the clipboard instead of saved to a file. You can then paste it into another application.

IThe files created using this method are PNG files by default. It is possible to change this setting using the command line: in the Terminal, type:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type image_format

where image_format could be BMP (Windows bitmap), GIF, JPEG 2000, JPEG, PDF, PICT, PNG, PSD, SGI, TGA & TIFF.

Using other applications:

  • The Grab application shipped with Mac OS X supports one more option – to take timed screen captures – and permits – via the Preferences – to place a cursor in the picture. Note that it does not include the actual cursor, but draws the user's chosen cursor at the cursor co-ordinates. Prior to Mac OS X, the mouse cursor was automatically included in full-screen captures but not captures of screen areas or individual windows where the cursor is used to select the area or window to capture. Grab places the screen capture into a new window, and you may save the image to disc as TIFF (but not any other format).
  • Preview version 3 has an option to take window, selection and timed screen captures via File > Grab. Preview simply activates the OS's existing screenshot system, but saves the captures as TIFF files instead of PNG and opens them as soon as they are saved.

Both Grab & Preview automatically save the files as TIFF.

  • Many commercial programs can be used instead, which adds functionality such as capturing a video of the screen.

Screenshots cannot be taken while protected DVDs are playing in DVD Player. You can also perform screenshots of Exposé in operation, and take screenshots of the process of taking screenshots: press shift-command-4 and then space to enter window screenshot mode, hold the cursor over a window, and press shift-command-3 to capture the full screen. Because the camera cursor during window capture is not a real mouse cursor, it, too, is included in the screenshot. You will now wish to hit escape to cancel out of window capture mode.

Finder Preferences[edit]

General[edit]

Labels[edit]

Sidebar[edit]

Advanced[edit]

Advanced Spotlight[edit]

you can narrow down your search by preceding the search criteria with the kind keyword.

i.e. kind:images mom

will only return images that have mom as a keyword, part of the name, etc...

different 'kind' keywords are: Folders, Documents, Presentations, images, Applications, Mail, Events, pdf, Contacts, Music, Bookmarks, movies, Fonts, system preferences (two words will work)

try kind:system preferences mouse