10 Tips for Mastering Finder Windows

As one of the most commonly used Mac applications, it is worth taking some time to get to grips with the Finder. There is a wealth of little known features and ways to carry out tasks more quickly and efficiently using the Finder's settings, menus and keyboard shortcuts. These ten tips mainly address the basics of working with Finder windows, but hopefully there will be something new to everyone.

1. Normally you just double click to open an item, but if you hold option while doing it the current window will close as the new one opens.

2. Spring loaded folders allow you to easily drag a file wherever you want. If you drag the file onto a folder icon and hold it there for a while, the folder will spring open, allowing you to drag the file onto a folder within a folder. You can do this as many times in a row you want, and when you let go of the file all the windows that have sprung open will close again. Hold the Space bar while doing this to get rid of the delay before a folder springs open.

3. Look in the Finder Preferences (located in the Finder Menu) for more window options. For example you can change the delay for spring loaded folders, set the default location for a new finder window (Command-N) and set folders to always open in a new window.

4. You can change the view of your Finder windows by pressing Command-Option-T. This shows and hides the toolbar and sidebar. The contents of both of these are customisable by dragging files and folders to them (Hold Command and Option if dragging to the toolbar) or by choosing Customise toolbar from the View Menu. You can also resize the sidebar and turn it into icons without names.

5. To close every single Finder window, hold option while clicking the red X in the corner. Alternatively press Command-Option-W.

6. In list view (choose from the View menu or icons in the window toolbar) you can peek into folders using the expansion triangles. Option clicking one of these triangles will expand the folder along with any folders it contains. Option clicking again will collapse all these folders again.

7. In column view it is sometimes easier to navigate through the file structure using the arrow keys. In the other views this is still possible, but to go inside the selected folder press Command-Down. In list view Command-Right will expand the currently selected folder. This can be used with multiple folders selected to look inside them all at the same time.

8. You can do many tricks to resize column widths to the right size in column view.
9. Command-1, 2 or 3 will change you to icon, list or column view. Command-[ and Command-] will take you back and forward.

10. Another tip gives details on browsing a website by command clicking on the title bar in Safari. This works even better in the Finder. Command Clicking on the title bar gives you the path to the current location, allowing you to jump to any of the enclosing folders.

11. You can use the Go menu to quickly navigate to common places such as Home, Applications and your 10 most recent folders. Most of these places have keyboard shortcuts associated with them.
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