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OS X Tutorial: Make the most of Finder

We've gone back to basics with this tutorial, showing you how to master an effective way to work with the software, documents and folders stored on your Mac.

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There is a wealth of fantastic software running on a Mac, but perhaps none more iconic than the Finder.
It is the first program a user interacts with after booting a Mac, and it is responsible for the general look and feel of your machine. Many aspects of your work are based on, and take advantage of, one of its features.

Its windowed view of the content of your system not only allows you to open and launch the applications and documents present on your system, but can also be tailored to suit your specific needs. Furthermore, the Finder leverages the services provided by built-in Mac OS X software and eases the access to shared resources and networks. But for all its promise, the Finder can sometimes be overlooked or under-utilised, due to not being thoroughly understood. Here we aim to familiarise you with the various aspects of this essential tool.

Step 1: The Finder environment
The Finder comprises a menu bar at the top, the dock at the bottom and the desktop in the background. It can also display floating windows.

Step 2: The menu bar
The menu bar displays various menus; first the Apple menu, then the menus for the currently active software and finally a number of items.

Step 3: The dock
The dock shows icon shortcuts for some of the software installed on your Mac, as well as file or folder shortcuts and the Trash further to the right.

Step 4: The dock’s Finder icon
The Finder will always be the first icon on the dock; one single click on it is the simplest way to activate the Finder.

Step 4: The dock’s Finder icon
The Finder will always be the first icon on the dock; one single click on it is the simplest way to activate the Finder.

Step 6: The Finder window toolbar
The toolbar includes buttons which allow different actions to be performed on the window itself and on the currently-selected file, folder and application.

Step 7: The Finder window sidebar
The sidebar presents shortcuts for resources, files and folders, applications, networked or connected devices and search results.

Step 8: The Finder content pane
There are four view configurations for the content pane; Icon, List, Column and Cover Flow. They are useful for browsing networks, folders and files.

Step 9: The Finder menus
The Finder’s menus regroup actions that can be performed on files. The Finder’s Finder menu gives you access to the Finder’s Preferences.

Click on the image below to zoom in on the annotations.

OS X Finder Tutorial - Annotated Image
OS X Finder Tutorial - Annotated Image


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