OS X 101: Tips for Windows
You may think there’s not much to say about Finder windows—you open a window, use it, and close it. But since you access Finder windows frequently, even a few tricks for using them more effectively can shave time off your workday.
Change Your View Mac OS X offers three different window view modes—list, icon, and column. The first two have existed on the Mac forever; OS X introduced the last. You control the view for a given folder through the Finder’s View menus, or you can just use Command-1 for icon view, Command-2 for list view, and Command-3 for column view.
Which view you choose is partly a matter of personal preference and partly dependent on what you’re looking at. For many people, myself included, column view offers the easiest means of navigating today’s large hard drives—in one open window, you can get to any spot on your hard drive with a few clicks. If you have sufficient screen real estate, opening two column-view windows lets you move things easily between folders anywhere on your Mac using drag and drop.
In certain folders, though, other views make more sense. You may wish to use icon view for a folder of images so you can see the thumbnails at a glance. If you download a lot of stuff from the Web, you might want to make a Downloads folder and set it to list view, sorted in newest-to-oldest order.
Amazing Views Use the View Options dialog box to control the appearance of your windows. You can even add information here—for instance, a column that shows any label you’ve added.
How do you do that? Simple. After setting the folder to list view, click on the Date Modified column header—it should default to newest-to-oldest order. If it doesn’t, just click on the Date Modified column header again, and the direction will reverse. This works for all column headers in list view. Click once to sort on that attribute; click twice to reverse the sort order.
Add More Info What if you’d like to see additional columns in your Finder window, such as the Date Created or Comments fields? In the Finder, select View: Show View Options or press Command-J to open the View Options dialog box. This small window has the power to customize how your windows appear (see “Amazing Views”). To modify just one window’s appearance, make sure This Window Only is selected. With the All Windows option selected, you’ll be making your changes to all folders that use the view mode you’re modifying.
As you switch between list, icon, and column views, the contents of the View Options window change—in icon view, for instance, you can choose a background color or picture for a folder.
Customize New Windows One of the questions new Mac users ask most often is how to set the default appearance for new windows—that is, how to control what you see when you press Command-N in the Finder. The answer is easy but far from obvious. Start by pressing Command-N to open a new window. Make the window look the way you want—change the view mode, or tweak colors and columns (depending on which view you’ve chosen, of course). You can also change the window’s size and position. Here’s the important part—do not click on any files or folders within the window; just close the window after you’ve set it to your liking. From now on, new Finder windows will open with your chosen settings.