Macworld Masterclass: Master the Finder

Use the newest Finder features to work with files and folders

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  • lionfindermaincopy Intro
  • lionfinder01 copy Step 1: AirDrop
  • lionfinder02 Step 2: Confirm transfer
  • lionfinder03copy Step 3: All my files
  • lionfinder04copy Step 4: Faster find
  • lionfinder05copy Step 5: Swipe files
  • lionfinder06copy Step 6: Search suggestions
  • lionfinder07copy Step 7: Search tokens
  • lionfinder08copy Step 8: Token types
  • lionfinder09copy Step 9: Better search
  • lionfinder10copy Step 10: Labels
  • lionfinder11copy Step 11: Group as folder
  • lionfinder12copy Step 12: Dragging files
  • lionfinder13copy Step 13: Merge folders
  • lionfinder14copy Step 14: New look
  • lionfinder15copy Step 15: Viewing platform
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Intro

Some of the changes in OS X Lion have been huge. The addition of Launchpad and Mission Control are significant leaps forward in functionality. The support for gestures throughout the operating system also gets OS X ready for the future of computing.

Then there are the smaller changes. But when those small changes are to the Finder, people notice. The Finder has been at the heart of the Mac OS since 1984, evolving incrementally over time. The version in Lion is the most streamlined and customisable we’ve ever known. It’s also been a bit controversial, with its grey icons and grouped items. Here we accentuate the positive and show you how to make the best of the Finder’s new features in Lion, looking at ways to manage files, make better searches, and configure the Finder to your liking.

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Next Prev lionfindermaincopy

Some of the changes in OS X Lion have been huge. The addition of Launchpad and Mission Control are significant leaps forward in functionality. The support for gestures throughout the operating system also gets OS X ready for the future of computing.

Then there are the smaller changes. But when those small changes are to the Finder, people notice. The Finder has been at the heart of the Mac OS since 1984, evolving incrementally over time. The version in Lion is the most streamlined and customisable we’ve ever known. It’s also been a bit controversial, with its grey icons and grouped items. Here we accentuate the positive and show you how to make the best of the Finder’s new features in Lion, looking at ways to manage files, make better searches, and configure the Finder to your liking.

 

Step 2 of 16: Step 1: AirDrop

Built in to Lion, but only available on newer systems, AirDrop enables you to drag and drop files to other supporting Macs in your vicinity, via a direct, ad-hoc WiFi connection. If the feature is available, you’ll see the AirDrop icon in Finder. Click the icon to find compatible Macs close by.

 

Step 3 of 16: Step 2: Confirm transfer

You can drag single or multiple files to any machine that AirDrop finds. You can even drag files to multiple machines. AirDrop queues them up and deals with them one at a time. The owner of the target machine will, however, need to confirm the transfer. You can see how the transfer is progressing in the dock.

 

Step 4 of 16: Step 3: All my files

Let’s talk about some of the other changes. In Lion, Finder defaults to the new All My Files view. If you don’t like the defaults, you can change the category used to organise the view, including Name, Application, Size, Label, and several date related taxonomies.

 

Step 5 of 16: Step 4: Faster find

If you’re struggling to find a file, there are a few ways to seek them out. With the focus on the category you want to search through, type the first letter of the file you’re looking for. Finder matches and selects the right file for you. If there’s more than one file with same first letter, type the second, and so on.

 

Step 6 of 16: Step 5: Swipe files

On a touchscreen or trackpad, you can swipe through the file categories in Icon or Cover Flow views with your fingers. If you’re a mouse and keyboard user, use the arrow keys to scroll horizontally through the files. Alternatively, click the furthest file icon at the left or right of the category to move along.

 

Step 7 of 16: Step 6: Search suggestions

Search has had a tweak or two in the new Finder. Start typing the name of a file, folder, application or file type in the search box, and Finder displays a list of smart suggestions to help you find what you’re looking for. These are handily categorised for fast selection.

 

Step 8 of 16: Step 7: Search tokens

You can use multiple, categorised keywords, which Lion calls Search Tokens, to build up complex searches. For example, start typing JPG and choose Kinds: JPEG Image. You can then search all JPEG images for a specific file name. You can amend your search by editing or deleting any token.

 

Step 9 of 16: Step 8: Token types

Lion’s Finder has different token types built in. You can, for example, search for dates, names or labels. Each time a token pops up, you can choose to use the token type or switch it so the keyword applies to Everything. In which case, Finder returns files that contain the keyword specified in any token category.

 

Step 10 of 16: Step 9: Better search

To build more complex searches, hold down Control and click on the All My Files icon, and choose Show Search Criteria. This gives you a menu-based query builder that enables you to create search strings based on any file category. You can save searches for reuse later, too.

 

Step 11 of 16: Step 10: Labels

Labels aren’t new, but they’re worth a recap as Lion’s new search and sort options make them more useful. To apply a label to a file, select it in Finder, then go to the File menu and click on one of the coloured swatches. Use them to colour code categories of file. Red for images, orange for documents, perhaps.

 

Step 12 of 16: Step 11: Group as folder

Lion makes it easy to add multiple files to a new folder. Click-drag around the items to select as many as you want, then press Control and click to bring up the contextual menu. Choose New Folder with Selection, and name the folder when prompted. This features saves you several clicks in one go.

 

Step 13 of 16: Step 12: Dragging files

You’ve always been able to drag multiple files around in OS X. Now when you select and drag several files from one place to another, two additional things happen. The icon changes to reflect the view settings for the window you’re dragging to, and an indicator tells you how many items are being dragged.

 

Step 14 of 16: Step 13: Merge folders

If you copy a folder to a location that contains a folder with the same name, Lion will pop up an alert. You can choose to cancel the operation, replace the existing file or Keep Both. If you choose the latter option, the contents of both folders will be merged into one.

 

Step 15 of 16: Step 14: New look

You can quickly change the look of Finder in Lion by Control-clicking on the toolbar. You can choose to add text labels to icons or view the Finder with icons only. Clicking Customise Toolbar enables you to select additional buttons and features to use in Finder.

 

Step 16 of 16: Step 15: Viewing platform

And finally, if you prefer Finder to open in another view – you’ll need to go to the Finder menu, choose Preferences and select a different folder from the New Finder windows show drop-down. The next time you open a new Finder window, your choice will pop up instead.

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