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Chapter 3. Viewing and Navigating Mac OS X Finder Windows
In this chapter
The Mac OS X Finder
The basic purpose of the Finder under Mac OS X is the same as it has always been; the Finder is the Mac application that provides the desktop, enables you to work with folders and files, and provides the basic interface for interacting with the system. The Finder does look quite a bit different than it did under previous versions of the OS, and it offers many more features, but most of the basic tasks work in the same or very similar ways. These
Working with Finder
When it comes to viewing Mac OS X Finder windows, there is definitely good news and bad news—
Figure 3.1. Under Mac OS X version 10.3, Finder windows offer more tools and more customization options than ever before.
The fundamental purpose of Finder windows is the same as it has always been—Finder windows enable you to view and manipulate the contents of disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, folders, and so on.
Opening Finder Windows
You can open Finder windows in several ways. If you click the Finder icon on the Dock (which is the Mac OS icon), one of two things can happen. If no Finder windows are currently open, a new Finder window appears showing the contents of the default location you selected (initially, this is your Home folder, but you can select any folder you'd like). If at least one Finder window is already
If you hold down the Control key while you click the Finder icon, click it and linger a moment, or right-click the icon on the Dock, a menu showing all open Finder windows appears. Select a window to jump into it.
You can also open a new Finder window by selecting File, New Finder Window ( -N). When you open a new Finder window, the result is always the same—the contents of your default location are displayed (this is initially set to be your Home folder, but you can change it to be any location you prefer).
The Mac OS X Finder uses a Web-like model in that each new Finder window you open starts a "chain" of windows (thus, the Back and Forward
To learn how to navigate Finder windows, p. 61 .
By default, when you open an item (such as a folder), its contents replace the contents of the previous item that were shown in the Finder window. You can change this behavior globally with a preference setting. You can also override this behavior so the new Finder window is separate from the first one by holding down the key while you double-click an icon.
This default behavior assumes that the toolbar and Places sidebar are shown in a Finder window. If not, opening a folder always opens a new, separate Finder window.
After you have one Finder window open, other Finder windows open in the same way that they did under previous versions of the OS. To open a window, double-click the icon for the item you want to open. Or select an item and select File, Open. The Open keyboard shortcut works, too—just select an item and press
-O to open it. You can also open an item's contextual menu and select Open. If you select an item while a Finder window is in the
When you open a new Finder window, it always assumes the view you selected the last time you
To reiterate this sometimes confusing behavior of Mac OS X windows, the view in which a new window opens is determined by the view you used for that window the last time you viewed it. In other words, windows retain their view settings, even if the window from which you opened a separate Finder window is different. For example, if you viewed the Applications directory in List view, it appears in List view whenever you open it in a new Finder window until you change the view in which it appears.
When you select a volume or folder in the Places sidebar, its contents are shown in the Finder window. The currently selected item is highlighted so you can easily tell what is selected. (The
If you hold down the
key while you click an item in the Places sidebar, that item opens in a new Finder window. If you hold down the Option key when you click an item in the Places sidebar, that item opens in a new Finder window and the previous window
Configuring How New Finder Windows Open
You can also set two other Finder window preferences
To configure how Finder windows open, perform the following steps:
To learn more about Mac OS X directories, p. 101 .
As you can see, you can choose a number of options for working with new Finder windows. Because my preferences are to have my Home folder open, open new items in the current Finder window, and always have new windows open in the Columns view, that is what this chapter assumes. I point out differences along the way when you choose other preferences.
Working with Spring-Loaded Folders
Mac OS X Finder windows can be
(this feature is turned on by default), meaning that they pop open when you drag an item onto a closed folder. This enables you to quickly place an item within nested folders without having to open each folder individually. Simply drag an item onto a closed folder so the folder is highlighted. After the delay time has passed, the highlighted folder opens in a separate Finder window (unless you are viewing the window in Columns view, in which case a new column appears for the item onto which you are dragging the item). You can then drag the item onto the
You can cause a folder to spring open immediately by pressing the spacebar when you drag an item onto a closed folder.
You can configure this behavior by using the following steps:
Scrolling Finder Windows
You scroll Mac OS X windows in basically the same way you always have. By default, the scrollbars are Mac OS X blue; you can change this to graphite with the Appearance pane of the System Preferences utility. As with previous versions of the OS, you can set the scroll arrows to both be located in the lower-right corner of windows or have an arrow located at each end of the scrollbar.
Mac OS X scrolling controls work as you expect them to. You have the following options:
You can modify several aspects of scrolling behavior. You can change the location of the scroll arrows. And, rather than moving an entire page each time you click above, below, to the left, or to the right of a scrollbar, you can set the scrolling such that you move to the relative location you click instead. You can also turn on smooth scrolling, which smoothes out the appearance of a window when you scroll in it. Follow these steps to modify these scrolling features:
This is a good chance to practice Mac OS X preference setting techniques. Make your changes to the Appearance pane, but leave the System Preferences utility open. Click in a Finder window; your changes immediately become active. If you are satisfied, jump back to the System Preferences utility and close it. If not, jump back into the Appearance pane and continue making changes until you are.
Resizing windows also works as you might expect. To change the size of a window, drag its resizing handle until the window is the
You can also use the Maximize button to make a window large enough to display all the items it contains or until it fills the screen, whichever comes first. Click the button and the window
You can also use this button to quickly swap between two sizes for a window. Make the window a size you like. When you click the Maximize button, it expands to its maximum size. Click the button again and it returns to the previous size. Each time you click the Maximize button, the window returns to the size it was previously (either the maximum size or the size you set).
If you are like me and have lots of Finder windows open on the Desktop, you can use this resizing behavior to make working between multiple windows more convenient. Select an open window and make it the size you want it to be so it is out of the way and you can store many windows of this size on your desktop; make it just large enough so you can see the window's title. You can click the Maximize button to open the window to work in it. Then, click the Maximize button again to return the window to its small size. Use the button to toggle between the two sizes. When you need to work in the window, make it large by clicking the Maximize button. When you are done, click the button again to make it small. You might find this even more
Resizing the Panes of Finder Windows
As you learned earlier, Finder windows have two panes. The left pane is the Places sidebar, whereas the right pane is the Contents pane that displays the contents of the item selected on the Places sidebar. You can change the relative size of the Places sidebar by dragging the resize handle that is located in the center of the border between the two panes (the handle is the familiar "dot"). Drag this to the left and the Places sidebar takes up less room in the window. Drag it to the right and the Places sidebar takes up more window space.
When you resize the Places sidebar, the text and icons within the sidebar become smaller so you can still see as much of them as possible within the allocated space. When the pane becomes too narrow to display all of an item's name, the first part of the name is shown followed by an ellipsis.
You can collapse the sidebar so that just the icons show. You can also collapse it all the way so that it doesn't show at all. To reveal it again, drag the resize handle to the right.
You can also collapse or expand it by double-clicking its resize handle.
Closing, Minimizing, and Maximizing Finder Windows
Among the most
To learn how to use the Dock, p. 127 .
By default, you can also minimize a window (thus moving it onto the Dock) by double-clicking its title bar.
If you don't want to be able to minimize a window by double-clicking in its title bar, open the Appearance pane of the System Preferences application and uncheck the "Minimize when double clicking a window title bar" check box.
The Close, Minimize, and Maximize buttons work even if the window on which they appear is not active. For example, you can close a window that is in the background by clicking its Close button without making the window active first. (When you point to a button on an inactive window, the button becomes colored so that you know it is active, even though the window is not.)
As under previous versions of the Mac OS, you can close all open Finder windows by holding down the Option key while you click the Close button in one of the windows.
Moving Finder Windows
You can move a Finder window around the desktop by dragging its title bar, borders, or
If you used previous versions of Mac OS X, you'll notice that moving windows around is considerably faster under version 10.3, as are other window
Using the Icon, List, or Columns Views for a Finder Window
You can view Finder windows in three different views: Icon, List, and Columns.
Viewing a Finder Window in Icon View
You can easily argue that icons made the Mac. Using friendly pictures to represent files and folders made the computer much friendlier and more approachable than any command line could ever hope to be. Mac OS X continues the use of icons to represent objects, and with their improved appearance under OS X, icons have never
You can view Finder windows in the Icon view by opening a window and then selecting View, As Icons; by pressing -1; or by clicking the Icon view button in the toolbar (see Figure 3.4). The objects in the window become icons, and if you have never seen OS X icons before, prepare to be impressed.
Figure 3.4. The familiar Icon view of the Mac OS is now even more visually appealing. Other operating systems might have
You can resize the width of the columns in a window by dragging the resize handle located in the lower-right corner of each column. Unlike in previous versions of Mac OS X, each column in a window can have a different width.
When you click a file to select it, the far-right column shows a large icon or a preview of the file and information about that file is displayed (refer to Figure 3.6).
If you click document files for which Mac OS X can create a preview, you see the preview in the column. If the file you select has dynamic content, you can play that content in the preview that you see in the Columns view. For example, if you select a QuickTime movie, you can use the QuickTime Player controls to watch the movie without opening the file. Certain types of text files are also displayed so you can read them (scrollbars appear in the column to enable you to read the entire document). You can also see large thumbnail views of graphics stored in certain formats. For those items that Mac OS X cannot create previews of (an application is one example), you see a large icon instead of a preview.
If you switch from the Columns view to one of the other views, the contents of the folder you most recently selected are shown in the window.
If you prefer not to see the preview, there are two ways to hide it. You can hide it in individual windows or you can hide it by using the View Options.
To hide the preview in specific windows, click the Expansion triangle next to the word Preview that appears just above the preview of a selected file in the Preview pane. This hides all previews for the current window.
You will learn about the View Options later in this chapter.