How to use Finder on your MacSource: iMore

The Finder in macOS 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), click on File in the Menu bar and choose New Finder Window.

    To open a Finder window, click on your desktop then click on File, and New Finder Window.Source: iMore

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

    To open a Finder window click the Finder icon on the Dock.Source: iMore

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

How to customize the Finder toolbar

By default, the Finder toolbar offers several different buttons you can use to change the Finder's view or perform an action, but you can customize the bar to your liking with several different tools.

  1. Open a new Finder window.
  2. Right-, control-, or two-finger-click on the toolbar.

    To customize the Finder toolbar, open Finder window, right-click toolbarSource: iMore

  3. Click Customize Toolbar…
  4. Click and drag different tools onto the bar. Here are some that you can choose from:

    • Quick Look:  The first tool I would pick. The Quick Look button is a great way to glance at a document or photo that you have in the finder.
    • Delete: Delete an item from the Finder after highlighting it.
    • Connect: Connect to an external server if you know the address. You can store several favorite servers and switch between them using this button.
    • Get Info: Highlight something in the Finder and press this button to get a detailed set of information on it.

    To customize the Finder toolbar, click Customize Toolbar, choose toolsSource: iMore

  5. Click Done once you've added all of the tools to the toolbar that you want.

    To customize the Finder toolbar, click Done.Source: iMore

How to use Quick Look

After adding Quick Look to the Finder toolbar, use it to take a peek at a document, photo, or other files that you've got in the Finder.

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

    To use Quick Look, open Finder window, highlight itemSource: iMore

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

    Alternatively, tap the Space bar on your keyboard.

    To use Quick Look, click the Quick Look button.Source: iMore

How to use the Info button

After adding the Info button to the Finder's toolbar, you can use it to get information on a given item in the Finder.

  1. Open a new Finder window.
  2. Click on the item for which you want information.

    To use the Info button, open a new Finder Window, click fileSource: iMore

  3. Click the Info button.

    To use the Info button, click InfoSource: iMore

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.

    To show or hide hard disks, external disks, CDs, and connected servers, open preferences, click GeneralSource: iMore

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

    To show or hide hard disks, external disks, CDs, and connected servers, check the boxesSource: iMore

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.

    To set a new Finder window's default section, click on Finder and select Preferences, click General.Source: iMore

  3. In the drop-down menu, click on the folder or storage device.

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

    To set a new Finder window's default section, click on folder or storage device you want in the drop-down menu. Choose Other if you can't find your desired location.Source: iMore

How to use Tags

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

    To use Tags, open Preferences, click TagsSource: iMore

  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.

    To use Tags, check boxes, drag tagsSource: iMore

How to create custom Tags

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

    To create custom Tags, click on Finder from the Menu bar, select Preferences. Click Tags.Source: iMore

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

  4. Enter a name for your tag.

    To create custom Tags, click the + button, then enter a name for your tag.Source: iMore

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

    To create custom Tags, click the circle next to your tag to assign it a color.Source: iMore

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

    To customize the Finder sidebar, open Preferences, click SidebarSource: iMore

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

    To customize the Finder sidebar, check the boxesSource: iMore

How to use Stacks in Finder

  1. Click View in the Menu bar of your Mac when on your desktop with no apps in the foreground.
  2. Click Use Stacks.

    To use Stacks in Finder, click View from the Menu bar, than click Use Stacks.Source: iMore

  3. Control-click, right-click, or two-finger-click on your desktop.
  4. Hover your mouse cursor over Group Stacks By. Choose between Kind, Date Last Opened, Date Added, Date Modified, Date Created, and Tags.

    <To use Stacks in Finder, control-click, right-click, or two-finger-click on your desktop. Hover your mouse cursor over Group Stacks By. Choose the group to sort by.Source: iMore

  1. Click on the Finder icon in your Dock to open a new Finder window.
  2. Navigate to the folder or section that you want to view.

    To use Gallery View in Finder, click on the Finder icon, then navigate to the folder or section that you want to view2Source: iMore

  3. Click the Gallery View button on the right-most side of the view selection buttons on the Finder window.

    To use Gallery View in Finder, click the Gallery View button. Source: iMore

How to view file metadata in Finder

  1. Click on the Finder icon in your Dock to open a new Finder window.
  2. Choose the view you want to use.

    To view file metadata in Finder, click on the Finder icon, then choose the view to use.Source: iMore

  3. Click on the file whose information you want to use.
  4. Click View in the Menu bar.

    To view file metadata in Finder, click on the file, then click View.Source: iMore

  5. Click Show Preview.
  6. Click Show More in the Preview pane to view additional metadata.

    To view file metadata in Finder, click Show Preview, then Show More.Source: iMore

How to use Quick Actions in Finder

  1. Click on the Finder icon in your Dock to open a new Finder window.
  2. Choose the view you want to use.

    To view file metadata in Finder, click on the Finder icon, then choose the view to use.Source: iMore

  3. Click on the file or files on which you wish to perform a quick action.
  4. Click View in the Menu bar if the Preview pane isn't already visible.

    To view file metadata in Finder, click on the file, then click View.Source: iMore

  5. Click Show Preview.
  6. Choose one of the actions available at the preview pane's bottom to perform it on the selected file or files.

    To use Quick Actions in Finder, click Show Preview, then choose one of the available actions.Source: iMore

  7. Click More… to find any other actions that you might be able to take.

    To use Quick Actions in Finder, click More ...Source: iMore

How to use Quick Look tools in Finder

Quick Look's updates in macOS Mojave make it more powerful than ever. Here's how you use it.

  1. Click on the Finder icon in your Dock to open a new Finder window.
  2. Choose the view you want to use.

    To view file metadata in Finder, click on the Finder icon, then choose the view to use.Source: iMore

  3. Click on the file you want to use with Quick Look.
  4. Tap the space bar on your keyboard to bring up Quick Look.
  5. Click the action button to take action on the file. What actions you can take and what the button looks like will depend on the file type.

    • Documents will have a Markup button. This allows you to draw, write, and highlight images and documents, add text boxes to them and even sign documents with a pre-saved signature. Images can be cropped and rotated as well.
    • In addition to Markup, images may also have a Rotate button. Press this to rotate your image to the left.
    • Audio and video files will have a Trim button. Press this, then grab the sliders on either end of the Quick Look preview to trim the length of an audio clip or video.

    To use Quick Look tools in Finder,  click the action button to take an action on the file. What actions you can take and what the button looks like will depend on the file type.Source: iMore

  6. Tap the space bar again when you're done with Quick Look.

New Mac?

Are you considering a new Mac desktop or laptop? Be sure to check out our favorite Macs of the year.

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.

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