Mac finder tutorial

Mac Finder Window Explained – TUTORIAL

Your Mac Finder is a brilliant feature as it allows you to access nearly every part of your Computer via one window. You can easily access all of  your stored applications, files and folders, hard disks, images, downloads, music, DVDS, external devices etc.

You can use your Mac Finder to organises your files, search for nearly anything and also delete things, even some apps you no longer wish to have cluttering up your hard drive.

To get the most out of your Mac Finder and help you save time, get organised and make using your Mac that bit more pleasurable, I have numbered and explained all the important areas of your Mac Finder window.

So here goes…

Mac finder tutorial

Mac Finder Window Explained

1.)  Coloured Buttons – These traffic light buttons allow you to Close, Minimise and Enlarge your Mac Finder window. Red is to close. Yellow is to minimise (shrink your window and temporarily store it in your Dock) and Green is to enlarge your window. Alternatively if your window is brimming with files and you wish to get a better look at all of the data at once, click on and drag the lower-right corner of the window to resize it.

2.)  Finder window View buttons:
▪ Icon view – This is my favourite view to use, especially if I am looking through images. It will display the contents of your folders as a series of icons. In Icon view, you are able see live icon previews. This is amazing as you quickly thumb through mini versions of a multi page document and even watch a preview of a Quick Time movie.

▪ List view – If you are looking for a document with a particular name or extension, I find this the easiest to use. It will display your files and folders in a spreadsheet-style arrangement. In this Finder View you can easily sort through the array of files by Name, Date Modified etc.

If you wish to get really fancy and set more columns to sort your files by then just select ‘Show View Options’ from the ‘View’ menu in the Finders toolbar. You will then be able to add / remove attribute columns. In a flash you can switch the sorting order from ascending to descending and back again by clicking on the attribute column title.

▪ Column view – These long skinny columns will display the hierarchy of your folders/document files/images etc. Each column represents a folder i.e.  your Downloads folder – where the column will show all of your recent downloads.

▪ Cover Flow view – Just like in iTunes, clover flow will display a large images of the contents of your folders in the top half of the window and will also list of the documents below. It provides a live preview of the data and is a rather fun way to sieve through your files. However, I find I tend to whiz past and overlook the actual file I am looking for, especially if it is a written document and the images displayed all look the same. Perfect if your are sieving through sounds tracks, movies or images though!

3.  Action Menu – This allows Quick access to some Finder functions for clicked on and highlighted items. For example you can ‘Get Info’ on your highlight files, ‘Move to Trash’, and add a colour tag to help colour organise the file.

4. Item Arrangement button – No matter which of the Views above you have set, your can go a little further and organise the contents of the window into orders such as Kind, Name, Date Added etc. To do this just click on this icon and select the arrangement options you wish to group the contents by.

5. Search Field – I love this section as it allows you to search for almost anything on your Mac. It may not be as exact and smart of some search features on paid more softwares such as Kromtech MacKeeper, but it generally does the trick. For someone like me who is forever forgetting which folders I have put everything into, you can use your Mac Finders search bar to find something. Juts type in a relevant word, phrase or even extension that would match that of the missing file. Your Mac Finders search box is powered by Apples Spotlight function and so will try and track down your runaway data by searching your whole Mac.

6. Right pane – This large area of your Mac Finder window is where all the content of the selected folders are displayed.

7. Pane edge – Usually the bottom right hand corner is the best place to grab the pane edge. You can then drag and resize it to get a clearer picture of all your data in the main right pane.

8. Devices – If you have an external devise connected to your Mac, such as a DVD, USB pen device or Time Machine backup disk, it will show up here allowing you to easily access it.

9. Sidebar – The juicy sidebar is where all of your Macs Items are accessed via. They are grouped into the three main sections: Favourites, Shared, and Devices—the top portion (your Favourites) provides quick access to All My Files, Applications, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Movies, Music, and Pictures.

10. Back / Forward buttons – As you click into various files and move from place to place you my find you have gone one step too far. Just click the left hand arrow to move a step back or the right to move one step forward again.

Sophie Tucker

Sophie Tucker

Chef Author at
Hi I'm Sophie, Chef Author at I'm a self proclaimed Mac Nerd and try and make it my job to know the latest tips and tricks for my readers. So whether you are a budding Mac geek, or a full blown enthusiast, I hope my guides can get you through smoothly 🙂
Sophie Tucker

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Sophie Tucker

Hi I'm Sophie, Chef Author at I'm a self proclaimed Mac Nerd and try and make it my job to know the latest tips and tricks for my readers. So whether you are a budding Mac geek, or a full blown enthusiast, I hope my guides can get you through smoothly :)