Although it has been around for many versions of macOS, the Arrange By setting in the Finder continues to confuse users who try to use it to set the sort order in a Finder window. Arrange By is for grouping files by kind, date, size and other criteria. For simple file name sorting, you should have it set to None, and then use the column headings to sort.
Power users love the Go To Folder command in the Finder. It allows you to type the path to a folder instead of using mouse clicks to navigate. You can use autocompletion to do this quickly, even if your folders have long names. The Go To Folder command can also be used in application open and save dialogs.
If you searching your Mac for a file doesn't return the results you expect, then there are several common culprits. You may simply not notice that the scope of the search is limited to the current folder instead of your entire drive. Or, you may have your Spotlight settings set to not look for some files. If there is a more serious problem, you can try re-indexing your Mac to fix broken search results.
The Desktop folder is just a regular folder with the special property of existing over your desktop background as well as in Finder windows. Items on your Desktop are the same items as the ones you see in the Desktop folder in your Home user folder. The Desktop can be useful for quick or frequent access to files and folders, although many prefer to keep the Desktop clean and empty or use it for temporary storage of new files only.
A common problem people have when trying to use custom Finder icons is that they try to set the icon to a file, instead of the image in a file's contents. Instead of the icon image they want, they get a default image JPG or PNG icon. You can use a custom icon by copying the contents of an image, from an app like Preview.
You can easily preview the contents of a file before opening it. Take a look at four methods of previewing files such as images, PDFs or text documents. You can enlarge Finder icons to use as previews, look at the preview pane in column view, use cover flow view, or use the handy Quick Look function on your Mac.
While most Mac users know how to select a single item simply by clicking it, it is a little harder to select multiple items. You can use the Command and Shift keys to select multiple items in places like the Finder, Photos and many other apps. You can also drag a rectangle around several items to select them in some cases. The keyboard shortcut Command+A is used often by experience Mac users to select all items.
There are three different ways to rename a file in the Finder. In addition, you can also rename a file while you are working on it in an app.
Spring-Loaded folders allow you to drag and drop files from one location to another, viewing what is inside the destination folder before dropping the file. This is particularly useful when you want to drop a file several levels deep. It works best when you are using column view, since you can move around through folders easily.
Aliases are shortcuts to folders and files that you can place anywhere in the Finder, on the desktop or in the Dock. You can use Aliases to have quick access to folders and files, while leaving those folders and files in their original locations. You can create folders full of aliases for even better access to items on the Desktop or in the Dock.
If you are new to using Macs, then you may not know how useful tabs can be as an alternative to using multiple windows. You can use tabs in Safari, the Finder, and even inside of apps for document windows. It is easy to combine all windows into a single window with tabs, and also move tabs around and switch between them.
If you are new to Mac, then the uses for the red, yellow and green window buttons at the top left corner of every Mac window may not be obvious. The red button closes the window. The yellow button minimizes the window, placing it in the Dock. The green button can either take the window into full screen mode, or maximize the window to its logical size.
If you have a folder you need to access all the time, you can give yourself easy access to it in a number of ways. You can use the Dock, the Finder sidebar, the Finder Toolbar and an alias on the Desktop. You can also create an Automator task to open the folder and then a keyboard shortcut for that. Mission Control is another way to keep that folder easily available.
Smart Folders allow you to view collections of files that share something in common, even if they are not all stored in the same folder. You create a Smart Folder just as you would perform a Finder search. But the Smart Folder will live on as a saved search in any location you specify, or nearly the Finder sidebar. Smart Folders update automatically to include new files that meet the same criteria.
If you use Column view in the Finder, it can be useful to understand how you can right-size columns so they are exactly the width the need to be to fit the longest file name. You can also change the default size of all columns in all Finder windows.
The Trash is a temporary storage location for files you wish to delete. You can put files into the Trash in a variety of ways, and take them back out again. To delete the files, you must empty the trash. You can also set items to automatically delete after 30 days. You should never put something in the Trash unless you are absolutely sure you want to delete it forever.
You may come across instructions from time-to-time that ask you to access your Library folder on your Mac. But there are two such folders. One is in your Home folder, and the other is at the top level of your drive. These are used for different things. Most of the time, the Library folder you want is the one in your Home folder. Find out how to reveal it, even though it is hidden, and how to get to it quickly with a menu command.
If you are using iCloud Drive Documents & Desktop, then all of the files you put in those folders are uploaded to iCloud. If you have projects that you would like to only be stored locally, you can create your own folders in your Home folder for these projects. It is a good idea to create one Local Documents folder and arrange those files in there. This can come in handy for those that use large files where uploading to iCloud for those files is an issue.
You can rename a file many different ways on a Mac. In the Finder, you can click the file name after a file is selected, press the Return key, or choose File, Rename. You can also rename files in the app that you are using to view or edit it. You can click on the name in the title bar or choose File, Rename. You can rename files in the Finder or an app and the other will understand the change and follow along without a problem.
You can customize the toolbar in the Finder and many apps. You can add buttons, spaces and other controls. Some apps have a large selection of buttons you can add. You can also revert to the default set easily. See what is available in the Finder, Mail, Pages and other apps.