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Finder Essentials

The following features have one thing in common: When they were first introduced, I thought they were just eye candy or of limited real use. Boy was I wrong—I now use them all the time.

Finder tabs

Instead of switching between lots of overlapping windows, I now view most of my Finder windows the same way I view Web pages in Safari: in tabs (Figure 4.5). I typically open a window for each active project and create tabs in them for the folders I need to access. In addition to reducing clutter, Finder tabs let you sensibly run the Finder full-screen if you just don’t want to see the Desktop. To create a new Finder tab, do any of the following:

  • In a Finder window, press Command-T or choose File > New Tab.
  • Hold Command and double-click a folder.
  • With a folder selected, right-click or Control-click it and choose Open in New Tab from the contextual menu.

    Figure 4.5

    Figure 4.5 Finder tabs

To close a tab, click the Close (x) button that appears when you move your pointer over the tab. You can also drag a tab out of the window to turn it into its own window.

Aside from their placement, Finder tabs act just like regular windows. One small difference is in moving or copying items between tabs: Drag the item to the tab’s title.

Quick Look

Select a file in the Finder and press the spacebar. A new window appears with a preview of the file’s contents, so you don’t need to open the file to tell what it is (Figure 4.6). You can view photos, video, audio clips, PDF files, Microsoft Word documents, Keynote presentations, and more. The Quick Look preview floats above your other windows—you can select other items to preview them without closing the Quick Look window.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 A Quick Look view of a PDF file

A Quick Look window also offers more options (Figure 4.7).

Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7 Quick Look options

  • When multiple files are selected, use the arrows (or arrow keys) to move between them.
  • Click the Index Sheet button to view all the files in a grid.
  • Click the “Open with” button to launch the suggested application. Or, right-click the button to view a list of other compatible programs; the list can also include actions, such as “Add to iPhoto” for images.
  • Click the Share button to share the current image via email, Messages, AirDrop, or photo sites.
  • Click the diagonal arrow icon to present the content full-screen.

    In Full Screen mode, a few other options appear (Figure 4.8).

    Figure 4.8

    Figure 4.8 Quick Look full-screen options

  • When more than one item is selected for Quick Look, click the Play button to start playing a slideshow of the items.
  • Click the Index Sheet button to view the items in a grid.
  • If you’re viewing an image, click the Add to iPhoto button to add the photo to your iPhoto library.
  • Click the Exit Full Screen button or press the Esc key to go back to the Quick Look window.

Finder tags

Mavericks introduces Finder tags, a new way to organize and locate files. If you’re accustomed to adding hashtags to Twitter posts or to blog posts, Finder tags will be instantly familiar. A tag is just a word or phrase describing something, in this case files and folders. Tags make it easier to find items in searches, and also co-opt the former Finder labels feature of older versions of OS X.

Add tags in the Finder

Select one or more files or folders in the Finder, and click the Edit Tags button in the toolbar. In the popover that appears, type the tags you want to assign, or choose from the list that appears (Figure 4.9). Any terms you type that aren’t already defined appear with dotted outlines and get added to the system after you assign them.

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 Add tags in the Finder.

When you use a colored tag, it’s indicated by a colored circle to the left of the filename in the Finder’s icon view or to the right of the filename in list view. You can apply colors to only seven terms (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and gray), which can be configured in the Finder’s settings (choose Finder > Preferences).

Add tags when saving files

When you save a file in any application, Mavericks includes a Tags field. Type terms into the field, or choose from the list that appears, to assign them to the file.

Spring-loaded folders

When you’re copying or moving a file or folder, you must do a little bit of prep work by making sure the source and the target are both in visible windows or tabs. Spring-loaded folders enable you to grab an item and move it to a folder that may not be visible.

Drag the item onto the top of a folder (or the title of a Finder tab), wait a moment, and that folder opens automatically. You can keep exploring in this way until you find the intended destination folder. If you opened the wrong folder, move the item (all the while keeping the mouse button pressed) out of the window that sprang open.

A similar effect works with open windows, too. If just a corner of a window is peeking out among dozens of open windows on your screen, that’s fine: Drag the file or folder to that window corner to bring the window forward, where you can drop the item to move it.

Create an archive

When you need to send several files to someone over the Internet, it’s best to wrap them up into a single package that gets transmitted. Select the files and choose File > Compress (number of items) (or right-click and choose the same item from a contextual menu). OS X makes copies and stores them in a .zip archive file.

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