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How to best use the macOS Finder | Tips and tricks

In this guide I reveal 10 tips and tricks on how to best use your Mac's Finder and make the most of its potential

Over the years, MacOS has undergone various graphic upheavals and its features have evolved over time, giving more and more customization possibilities. One of the aspects of MacOS that has received the most improvements in the latest releases is definitely the Finder.

The Finder perhaps the most used application of the entire operating system: it opens automatically on startup and follows us during our study and work days. For this reason knowing master the Finder allows us to improve ours productivity and efficiency.

In addition to helping us to view files, search for documents and eliminate those that we no longer need, there are many hidden functions and little known of the Finder. Today I will reveal 10 hidden features, tricks and tips that will allow you to make the best use of it on your Mac.

How to find the path of a file

how to find the path of a file on mac

From all Finder windows you can quickly find the route open. To do this, simply hold down the button Command on your Mac keyboard while clicking on the title of the window (the name you find written in the upper part at the center).

To always view the path of the folder in question, just click on the menu View and then click on Show route bar. This way you will always see the address bar in the Finder.

How to view file extensions on Mac

how to view file extension on mac

By default macOS hides file extensions, regardless of which it is. View lextension of all files in the Finder really simple. Just click on the Preferences item, of course while you have an open folder, and then select Advanced and then activate the Show all file name extensions item. In this way the extension of your files will always be visible.

How to join two windows in the Finder

join windows on mac finder

You will often have more than one window open and need to work with two, or more, windows side by side. From OS X Maverick 10.9 the possibility of managing files has been introduced windows as panelsall without having to arrange them manually. To combine and join the open windows on your Mac, just select one of the open windows and then move to the Window menu and then use the Merge all windows command.

If you need to separate previously joined windows you will have to go back to the Window menu again and this time click on Move Panel to a new window. There is also a faster alternative, you can simply drag the panel out of the window using the mouse or trackpad.

Use the Finder with order

By pressing the Option (Alt) key while opening a folder, all previously opened folders can be closed automatically. In this way, when opening a new folder, it will be the only one still in use, thus avoiding having to jump from one folder to another.

If you open a folder using the mouse you can use the Command key to open the folder in a new panel.

Set up column view

set column view on mac finder

Viewing columns of windows and folders can be very useful, especially in the workplace and if you have to switch often from one folder to another. If you open a window using the As columns view you can see all the individual file paths and navigate more comfortably and quickly inside the Finder. To do this, just press the icon with the two vertical lines that you find in the upper left part of the Finder.

If the columns are not wide enough, and they cut the name of the files or folders, it is possible adapt the width in different ways. The simplest method is to move the icon with the two vertical lines and adapt it to the necessary space. Faster just double-click on the column to automatically enlarge it. If, on the other hand, you want to enlarge all the columns, giving them the necessary width, just double-click while holding down the Option button. If you hold down the Control button and click on the icon with the two vertical lines, some items will appear that allow you to choose between Fit size for this column, Fit size for each column, Use the same size for all the columns to be able to customize the view of the your folders.

You can use Smart folders

smart folder options

I have to be honest, before writing this guide I did not know the Smart folders of the Mac. Thanks to the Smart folders you can automatically view the files divided by type and object. Create a really simple Smart folder: from the Finder's File menu, just click on New smart folder and set which ones are items to include. If you press the + button you can specify what the file selection criteria are, so you can extract all the contents according to predefined parameters. If you click on + while holding down the Option button you can set options for grouping files.

The items that will be inserted will be viewable in the smart folder, but will not be moved from the source path. Smart windows are therefore perfect for quickly grouping files with similar or specific characteristics and can also be added to the sidebar of Finder windows.

Quickly import photos and documents from iPhone to Mac Finder

Quickly import photos and documents from iPhone to Mac Finder

Maybe you didn't know, but you can use your iPhone to scan documents and take photos and view them immediately on your Mac. This defined functionality Continuity, introduced with the arrival macOS 10.14 and iOS 12, certainly very useful in the workplace and usable with many other applications, not only on the Finder. In order to use Continuity you need to make sure that Mac and iPhone have WiFi and Bluetooth active and that they are connected to the same iCloud account. To quickly move photos and scans from iPhone to Mac, simply open the Finder, click with the right button or click with two fingers on the trackpad and select the Import from iPhone or iPad item, from here you can decide whether to import photos, scans and documents or drawings. With the Add drawing function you are given the possibility to draw freehand on the screen of your iPad or iPhone and then import it on your Mac.

How to use QuickLook to preview a file

activate quick look on mac

Thanks to the quick view you can see aquick preview of a file without having to open it. To quickly see a preview of a file, simply select it and press the space bar to see it open in an instant thanks to QuickLook. Once opened you can make quick changes how to rotate photos, cut a video, take notes on a PDF or annotations on an image. You can also decide to open multiple elements together, you just have to select them and press the space bar. Once opened you can move from one file to another thanks to the directional arrows.

You can also turn on the display at internal screen, just click on the appropriate button on the upper left of the window.

How to change the default destination folder

default destination folder

You will surely have noticed that every time you open the Finder it always shows the folder of recent files. You can change this setting by following a few steps: open the Finder menu, click on Preferences and then on General tab. From this window in the lower part you can set the opening of another folder of your choice. In my case I set up the desktop so that I can always quickly access the files and folders that I keep on the desktop.

Usually to access the menu you have to move the mouse and click on the apple or on the other items and then choose how to proceed according to your needs. You can quickly access the Apple menu at the top using a simple key combination: Ctrl + F2 if you use a Mac Mini, a Mac Pro or an iMac, Fn + Ctrl + F2 if you use a Macbook Air or a Macbook Pro. Once the menu is open you can navigate inside it with the arrows and you can confirm with the space bar or Enter. This function could be very useful while you write or work and allows you to access the menu without having to take your hands off the keyboard to reach the mouse or trackpad.