MacMost Now 154: Finder Window Tricks

Learn how to customize the Sidebar, Toolbar and other parts of the Finder window. Also, announcing the new MacMost weekly email newsletter.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 154: Finder Window Tricks.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. Today let me share with you some Finder window tricks.
So here we have the Finder window, now the middle area is called the content area, and you can set it to show icon view, list view, column view or cover flow view, which is really just list view with a cool iPod-like cover flow at the top. The rest of the parts of the window are the sidebar, over here on the left, the toolbar at the top and also the status bar here at the bottom. There is also a lesser known area, called the path bar. Now this isn't on by default, if you go to View, Show Path Bar, you get it at the bottom, and it shows you the complete path to the current file that's selected. It's also active. So for instance if I wanted to go and drag a file to another folder, you see that I can. Now there are preferences for each type of view for the content area. To see the preferences, go to View, Show View Options and you get this little panel here that will sit on top of the finder window. Now, when I've selected icon view for instance, I get a whole different set of options here. I can change the size of the icons, the grid spacing, I can change where the label is, put on the right instead of at the bottom. I can even select to show some info, so info like the number of files in a particular folder. I can also change the background to a specific color or a specific image.
Now, if I switch to the list view, I get a whole different set of options. I can increase the icon size to a larger size. I can also determine what is shown here. Name, Date Modified, Size and Kind are right now, but I can actually go and add Date Created, or say remove Size, and I can add also Version, Comments and Labels. I can also basically click on calculate all sizes which is at the bottom here, which will calculate all the sizes of all the folders. So, now I have folder sizes as well as file sizes. This can be dangerous though if you have a lot of files, a lot of folders in another folder and you click select calculate all sizes, you're going to get a bit of a lag as it tries to calculate the size of some massive folders. So, that's why that's off by default.
In column view, you get less but one of the interesting things most people don't know about it is you do have some sorting options. So usually things arranged by name but I can change the arrangement to say arrange by size. So I can actually sort by size or date created, modified, kind and label, inside of column view. Now column view is definitely my favorite view. It allows you to quickly navigate even using the keyboard between different things, so you can go down, move to the right, get a preview of any sort of file that you can preview like a video file or an image file, and you can navigate using the keyboard like that. It's also the predominant view when you're actually doing a save or open inside an application. You get basically, you find your column view. So, you get kinda used to using it, so it's my favorite. The cover flow view has as the same option as list view since it really is pretty much the same thing. If you want to adjust the size of cover flow there's actually this little pull area here, that you can pull up or down to have larger or smaller icons.
Now you can customize the sidebar by dragging items to it, for instance if you wanted to have a certain folder like this archive folder here, in the sidebar, I can drag it in and drop it there, and that way I could basically have quick access to it. Now you can further modify the sidebar by going to Finder, Preferences and selecting the sidebar pane, and this gives you a long list of things that are included on a Mac in the sidebar. So, if you don't want to see your iDisk or External Disks or inserted CDs or just about anything in the sidebar to automatically appear, you can uncheck it and it will go away. Also, it will control what is in the 'search for' are here. You can do anything you want really to change the contents of the sidebar.
Now you can customize the toolbar by going to View, Customize Toolbar, and it brings up this entire menu here of things you can drag and drop on to the toolbar. So for instance, the very useful Path button is not included by default, you can just drag it to the top and if you find that you don't really need to use the quick view button you can drag that off. So you can rearrange things or you can set things back to the default views. Now, when you're done you have your new settings and you can use the new items that are there.
Another cool thing you can do with the toolbar is you can add any application to it, so lets go to the Applications folder, and say I want to go ahead and add TextEdit there, I drag it to the drop, and usually I find you have to wait about a second for it to appear. Probably verifies it's an application, and then you can drag it there. Now I've got this icon here that's a shortcut to TextEdit. Not only could I click on it to launch TextEdit but I can actually drag and drop files to it. So, for instance, I could drag this here and it opens it up in TextEdit. It's very handy if you use one application a lot.
Now handy tips likes these Finder tricks are going to be exactly the kind of things I'm going to put in new MacMost email newsletter. That's going to start at the end of this week. To sign up for it, go to So the idea is, that every week I'll send out an email to everyone that subscribes, I'm going to put some Macintosh tips in there, maybe some iPhone tips, I'm gonna list the videos that I did during the week and point to other things like blog posts, maybe even ask for some feedback. So signup for the newsletter now. Thanks a lot. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 5 Responses to “MacMost Now 154: Finder Window Tricks”

    10 years ago

    Hello Gary !

    I’ve to thank you for all your videos. It’s always helpfull to get tips and tricks to be remembered from time to time. For beginners, so called “switcher”, and even advenced users.

    In this episode your gave me the answer of a big question I got : How can I open one file file my prefered application. And that application have to be always available ? The tool bar of course !

    I’m using primarily linux as desktop computer at work. I’m slowly using both Ubuntu and OSX for now about a year (am I a switcher ? ) Im not yet really sure I’m “switching” from one OS to the other.
    Well.. on Ubuntu the contextual menu is customisable and you can add your own script (in Nautilus, the Gnome “Finder”). I was looking for something similar in OSX.

    Thanks and keep up the very good work !


    Jerry Hall
    7 years ago

    Re Full Path
    1. How do I enter the full path string when file name is requested on an upload? In windows I have a field at the bottom of the file manager that I can paste the name into. The finder type window that is presented to me in Lion seems not to have any such ability. I found Cmd Shift G seems to work. Is this the best I can do? Also, what is the general purpose of that command? It seems to come up whenever I invoke it, regardless of program.

    2. Conversely how do I retrieve the full path name string that I can copy from Finder when resting on a file? I would expect Get Info to give me that option but it seems not to.

    Your site is one of the shining lights of my pitiful attempt to migrate from Windows to Lion after being on Wintel since I think 1981. Love the hardware and ecosystem. Not at all sure about the hype on the MacOs. But I will persist.

    Thanks so much for what you do.

      7 years ago

      Command+Shift+G is just the shortcut for the menu Go, Go To Folder in the finder. Its purpose is for typing a full path rather than using the GUI to go to the file. There’s not much point to it for 99% of users — you could more easily use the Search box in the open dialog to get the file quickly by just knowing its name or part of the name.
      I don’t know if there is a point to retrieving the path of a file you can already see. If you see it in the Finder, and you have an open dialog elsewhere, then just drag and drop. Drag the file from the Finder to the open dialog. You can always Get Info (Command+I) to get the full path if you feel like typing.

    Jerry Hall
    7 years ago

    Thanks Gary. I wasn’t clear, and mine may be a rare case. When in Picasa Image Editor for example and I want to upload an image it is easiest to just right click, grab “Full Path” from Picasa and paste the path into the upload dialog, rather than rummaging thru all the arcane image file names to find it again. So I guess Command+Shift+G does the job OK.

    Similarly when rummaging around Finder looking at files, maybe across multiple Finder instances, and I find something I want to upload it is nice to just grab the path, rather than having to find it again from the upload dialog. Thanks, I see how to do that now from Get Info.

    Most likely I am just doing things in an arcane way and with a Windows set of mind for very special cases….

      7 years ago

      If you like it, then you should also turn on the Finder path bar too. View, Show Path Bar.

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