How to use Finder on your Mac

The Finder is your gateway to all of the files, apps, and downloads on your Mac. Everything, from your Dropbox folders to your cool new desktop wallpaper, can be located in the Finder. You also have a lot of control over what the Finder will show you, and how different parts of the Finder will work.

Follow this guide to take control of the Finder and make it work for you.

How to open a Finder window

There are a few methods for opening windows in the Finder to let you get at your files.

  • Click on your desktop (don't select an app or program), then click on File in the Menu bar and choose New Finder Window.

Open in Preferences

  • On your Dock, click on the Finder icon (looks like a smiling face).

Click the Finder icon

  • On your keyboard, hit 'Command-N' while you have the desktop selected.

How to use Quick Look

  1. Open a new Finder window.
  2. Find the file you wish to use Quick Look with and click it once.

    Open Finder window, highlight item

  3. Click the Quick Look button on your Finder's toolbar

    Alternatively, tap the Space bar on your keyboard.

    Click the Quick Look button

How to show or hide hard disks, external disks, CDs, and connected servers on your desktop

  1. In Finder, click on Finder in the Menu bar and select Preferences.
  2. Click General.

    Open preferences, click General

  3. Check the boxes for the types of items you want to display on your desktop.

    Check the boxes

How to set a new Finder window's default section

  1. In Finder, click on Finder in the Menu bar and select Preferences.
  2. Click General.

    Open Preferences, hit General

  3. In the drop down menu, click on the folder or storage device new Finder windows should show when it opens.

  4. If your desired section isn't immediately available, choose Other.

    Clock the drop down menu to choose location

How to use Tags

  1. In Finder, click on Finder in the Menu bar and select Preferences.
  2. Click Tags.

    Open Preferences, click Tags

  3. Check the boxes next to your tags to select which tags are displayed in your Finder's sidebar.

  4. Drag a favorite tag to the bottom of the Tags tab to make it available for quick access in Finder menus.

    Check boxes, drag tags

How to create custom Tags

  1. In Finder, click on Finder in the Menu bar and select Preferences.
  2. Click Tags.

    Open Preferences, click Tags

  3. Below the list of tags, click the + button.

  4. Enter a name for your tag.

    Hit +, choose a tag name

  5. Click the circle next to your tag to assign it a color.

Choose a tag color

How to customize the Finder sidebar

  1. In Finder, click on Finder in the Menu bar and select Preferences.
  2. Click Sidebar.

    Open Preferences, click Sidebar

  3. Check the boxes next to the items you want to see in your Finder's sidebar.

    Check the boxes

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about how to use Finder on the Mac? Drop them in the comments and we'll help you out.

macOS High Sierra

Main

macOS Sierra