If you’re new to a Mac, or are moving from a Windows PC, you might find Finder a bit confusing at first. But don’t worry—it’s quite simple and intuitive to use! We’ve broken it all down for you below, to help you learn how to use Finder on your Mac.
What Is Finder?
Finder is the way that you interact with the file system on your Mac. You can think of it as the macOS equivalent of File Explorer on Windows. You can move, copy, and delete files through Finder. Apart from this, you can also access applications, connect to peripheral devices, and more.
How to Open Finder
The quickest way to access the Finder is through the Dock. Simply click on the smiling blue face in your Dock to open up a Finder window.
Once Finder opens up, you should see the default Finder window. Finder will load the Recents section by default, but you can use the sidebar to view other popular folders, or double-click to open a file or folder.
Creating a New Folder
If you want to create a new folder for organizing your files, simply Control-click anywhere while using Icon View and select New Folder, or go to File > New Folder from the menu bar.
Selecting Multiple Files
You can select multiple files by either clicking and dragging a selection box around them (click anywhere and drag your pointer around the files you want to select) or by clicking individual files while keeping the Cmd key pressed down.
Moving Files and Folders
You can move files between different locations using Finder. There are two different ways to do this:
- Click and drag to move a file or folder between two windows. Usually, if you drag and move between two different drives (for example, moving a file between your Mac and a USB drive), Finder will make a copy of the file and keep a copy in both locations. On the other hand, if you drag a file or folder to a location on the same drive, Finder will move the item to a new location without copying it.
- Alternatively, you can use the traditional method to move files—copy and paste. To copy a file, Control-click on it and select Copy (or press Cmd + C on your keyboard). Once you’ve copied it, open up the location that you want to move it to, Control-click anywhere, and select Paste (or press Cmd + V).
The quickest way to access your different file locations is using the Finder sidebar. You can save different locations as Favorites here to open them quickly, and easily transfer files between them.
If you can’t see the Sidebar on your Finder window, make sure it’s enabled from View > Show Sidebar in the Finder menu bar.
If you connect any external media to your Mac, such as an external drive or a USB stick, it should automatically show up in the Finder Sidebar, allowing you to access it.
In case you can’t see it for some reason, you can also access all your storage devices by selecting Go > Computer from the Finder menu bar.
Getting File Info
You can use the File Info window to get all details about a specific file or folder, including the date created, total size, file path location, and more. To view the File Info window, Control-click on a file and select Get Info.
Using Finder’s Search Feature
If you’re looking for a file or folder on your Mac, it can be very handy to use Finder’s Search feature. You can do this by clicking on the magnifying glass in the top-right corner of the Finder window.
When you search for an item, Finder will search your entire Mac by default. If you only want to search your current location, select the relevant option above the search results to do so. If you’re unsure of the exact file location after a search, you should be able to view the file path at the bottom of the Finder window.
How to Open Applications From Finder
All the apps installed on your computer are stored in the Mac Applications folder. Thus, if you’re looking for a specific application, or want to see all the apps installed on your Mac, you should check the Applications folder in Finder. You can access the Applications folder from the Sidebar or by going to Go > Applications from the menu bar.
Finder has many functions, many of which can be hidden from the normal Finder window.
Take some time to explore all the functions available in Finder using the Finder menu bar at the top of the screen. The different sections (File, Edit, View, Go, and Window) contain different features, all of which can be very helpful. Other specific settings are available from the Preferences pane, such as the option to display hidden files in Finder.
Customizing Your Finder Window
Once you’ve got the hang of the basic essentials of using Finder, you can customize your Finder windows to suit you better.
Using the File View and Sort Options
You can switch between different file views on Finder. These include an Icon, List, Column, or Gallery view. You can select these from the View button in the Finder window, or from the View menu at the top of the screen.
You can also sort your files according to different parameters for a better organization.
Customizing the Toolbar
The Toolbar at the top of every Finder window can be an essential part of your workflow, if set up properly. Changing the buttons available can save you loads of time. To customize the toolbar, simply Control-click the toolbar and select Customize Toolbar.
You’ll see multiple options here to choose from, including Quick Look, Delete, Get Info, and more. Drag your required tools to the Toolbar and click Done to add them.
Using Tags in Finder
Tags are a great way to organize your files without changing their locations. Simply tag a file using a specific colored tag. Then you can then view all the tagged items together by selecting that tag from the sidebar.
To tag a file, Control-click on it and select the tag color. You can also do this by selecting the file and then selecting the tag color from the File menu.
Mastering Finder Is Easy
There are many amazing features in Finder, as you may have imagined. Once you get familiar with all the basics of using Finder, you can start to use some of its advanced features, like enabling hidden files, using groups, and more. This will lead to a more efficient workflow and save you valuable time whilst doing daily tasks on your Mac.
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