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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Customizing Finder Windows

Customizing Finder Windows

My goal in this chapter has been to get you comfortable enough with Finder that you don’t waste precious time on boring but necessary tasks such as working with files, folders, and discs. One of the best ways to become efficient with Finder is to set up the application to suit the way you work. You do that by customizing aspects of the Finder interface such as the Sidebar, the toolbar, the status bar, and the various Finder views. The next few sections take you through all of Finder’s customization options.

Customizing the Sidebar

The Sidebar provides a convenient way to access the mounted volumes on your Mac along with specific folders, documents, and applications (see Figure 3.10). As mentioned earlier, the Devices section of the sidebar shows all the mounted volumes on your Mac; the Shared section shows servers you are connected to; and the Search For section shows saved searches and smart folders. By default, the Places section of the Sidebar shows several of the folders within your Home folder and the Applications folder, but you can add or remove folders, documents, or applications to this area to customize it.

Figure 3.10 The Sidebar makes getting into any mounted volume on your Mac or into specific folders easy.

To view the contents of a volume or folder, click it—its contents appear in the Content pane of the Finder window. For volumes, a button enables you to perform an action. For example, when you have an ejectable volume, such as a disk image or DVD, you can click an Eject button. When you have inserted a blank CD or DVD, you can click the Burn button that appears next to a Burnable folder to burn the disc.

Setting the Default Items in the Sidebar

Finder preferences determine which items appear in the Sidebar. To set them, follow these steps:

  1. Select Finder, Preferences or press Command-,.
  2. Click the Sidebar tab (see Figure 3.11).
  3. Figure 3.11 Use the Sidebar pane of the Finder Preferences window to configure the default items in the sidebar.

  4. Activate the check box next to each item you want to appear in the Sidebar.
  5. Deactivate the check box next to each item you don’t want to appear in the Sidebar.

The next time you view a Finder window, its sidebar contains the items you specified. These selections only impact default items; anything you’ve added or removed manually is not impacted.

Organizing Your Sidebar

You can further organize the Sidebar by doing the following tasks:

  • You can add any folder or file to the Places section of the Sidebar by dragging it into that section.
  • You can also add a folder or file to the sidebar by selecting it and selecting File, Add to Sidebar or pressing Command-T.
  • You can remove folders from the sidebar by dragging them out of the sidebar. When you do, they disappear in a puff of smoke. Of course, the original item isn’t affected.
  • Resize the Sidebar to make it fill up more or less of the Finder window (your change lasts only as long as the current Finder window chain).
  • Show or hide the Sidebar by clicking the Show/Hide Toolbar button in the upper-right corner of Finder windows.
  • Drag icons up and down within the Places section of the Sidebar to reorganize them.

Customizing the Toolbar

Along the top of Finder windows, you see the toolbar. This toolbar contains the Back and Forward buttons, the View buttons, the Action menu (covered in a later section), Quick Look button, and the Search tool. As with the sidebar, you can customize many aspects of this toolbar. You can show or hide it and customize the tools it contains.

Showing or Hiding the Toolbar

You can hide or show the toolbar in a Finder window in any of the following ways:

  • Click the Show/Hide Toolbar button in the upper-right corner of the Finder window.
  • Select View, Hide Toolbar or View, Show Toolbar.
  • Press Option-Command-T.

The state of the toolbar controls how new Finder windows open when they are viewed in the Icon or List view. If the toolbar is displayed, new Finder windows open according to the preferences you set using the Finder Preferences dialog box. If the toolbar is hidden, new Finder windows always open in a separate window.

When you open a new Finder window from a window in which the toolbar is hidden (for example, by holding down the Option key when you open a new Finder window), the toolbar is hidden in the new window. When you open a Finder window from a window in which the toolbar is shown, the toolbar is shown in the new window as well.

The toolbar state in currently open Finder windows is independent. For example, you can show the toolbar in one Finder window while it is hidden in another. In fact, if you have two Finder windows for the same folder open at the same time, you can hide the toolbar in one window while it is shown in the other.

Changing the Tools on the Toolbar

The default toolbar contains various useful buttons, but you can customize its content by adding tools to it or removing tools from it by doing the following:

  1. Open a Finder window.
  2. Select View, Customize Toolbar. The Toolbar customization sheet appears (see Figure 3.12).
  3. Figure 3.12 You can add buttons to or remove them from the toolbar using the Customize Toolbar sheet.

  4. To add a button to the toolbar, drag it from the sheet to the toolbar, placing it in the location where you want it. (Table 3.2 lists the available buttons and what they do.)
  5. When you move a button between two current buttons on the toolbar, existing buttons slide apart to make room for the new button.

  6. Remove a button from the toolbar by dragging it off the toolbar.
  7. Change the location of the icons by dragging them. You can move buttons and menus that you add as well as those that are installed by default.
  8. Use the Show pop-up menu to determine whether the buttons have text and an icon, text only, or an icon only.
  9. To use the small icon size, activate the Use Small Size check box.
  10. Click Done.

Table 3.2  Useful Toolbar Buttons

Button Name

What It Does

Back/Forward

Moves you back or forward in a chain of Finder windows.

Path

Pops up a menu that shows the path to the current folder. You can select a folder on the pop-up menu to move there.

View

Changes the view for the current window.

Action

Provides a pop-up menu with access to various context-sensitive commands.

Eject

-Enables you to eject items, such as mounted volumes, discs, and so on, from the desktop.

Burn

Enables you to burn a CD or DVD from a burnable folder.

Customize

Enables you to open the Customize Toolbar sheet.

Separator

A graphic element you can use to organize your toolbar.

Space

Adds a block of space to the toolbar.

Flexible Space

Adds a block of flexible space to the toolbar.

New Folder

Creates a new folder.

Delete

Deletes the selected item.

Connect

Opens the Connect to Server dialog box.

Get Info

Opens the Get Info window for a selected item.

iDisk

Accesses your iDisk.

Search

Enables you to search Finder windows.

Quick Look

Opens a floating window to preview or provide information about the selected item. If you have selected a folder, you will be shown details about the contents of the folder. Selecting a document will provide a preview of that file.

Customizing the Status Bar

The status bar provides status information for the current folder, volume, or whatever else is being displayed in the Finder window. Mostly, the status bar provides information about the number of items in the window and the amount of free space on the current volume.

Where the status bar is displayed depends on whether the toolbar is shown.

If the toolbar is shown, the status bar information is displayed at the bottom of the window. For example, if you are viewing a folder, the number of items it contains and the amount of space available on the drive on which it is stored will be shown.

If the toolbar is hidden, the status bar appears immediately under the title bar (see Figure 3.13). As with the toolbar, you can hide or show the status bar using the View menu. Unlike the toolbar, however, the contents of the status bar can’t be changed.

Figure 3.13 When the toolbar is hidden, the status bar appears immediately under the title bar.

Customizing the Finder Window Views

For each view type of Finder window view, you can set default or global view preferences that affect all windows you open using that view type. You can then set options for individual windows to override the default settings for that view type for that specific window. For example, one of the customization options for the List view is the data you see in the window. You can choose to display the Comments column for a window in List view. If you set this as a default preference, each time you open a new window in List view, you see the Comments column. If there is a window in which you don’t want to see the Comments column, you can change the preferences for that window so the Comments column is not displayed.

When you set a default preference, it affects all windows shown in that view. When you change a window’s preference, it affects only the current window.

Customizing the Icon View

Set your default preferences for the Icon view using the following steps:

  1. Open a Finder window in the Icon view so you can preview the preferences you will set.
  2. Select View, Show View Options or press Command-J. The View Options window appears (see Figure 3.14). You use this window to set both default and window settings. At the top of the window is the name of the folder you are currently viewing.
  3. Use the Icon Size slider to set the relative size of the icons you see. As you move the slider, the icons in the open window reflect the size you set. When you are happy with the size of the icons, release the slider.
  4. Use the Grid Spacing pop-up menu to set the size of the grid used to keep icons organized in the window.
  5. Figure 3.14 The View Options window enables you to customize Finder window views.

  6. Use the Text Size pop-up menu to set the size of the icon labels.
  7. In the Label Position area, select the location of icon labels: Bottom or Right.
  8. Activate the Show Item Info check box to see information for the items in a window. The information you see depends on the items being displayed. For example, when the window shows volumes, you see the total space on the volume and the free space on each volume. When you view folders, you see the number of items in that folder. When you see files, information about the file is shown, such as the sizes of image files.
  9. Deactivate the Show Icon Preview check box if you don’t want Mac OS X to create a preview of the file in the file’s icon even if the file type doesn’t include one by default. By default, graphic file icons contain a preview of the file’s content within the icon. Some types of files don’t include this icon information and their icon doesn’t contain a preview. To see this preview, leave this check box activated.
  10. Use the Arrange By pop-up menu to select the criterion by which you want icons grouped on the pop-up menu. None is selected by default, and your other options are Name, Date Modified, Date Created, Size, Kind, and Label. Choose Snap to Grid to keep icons organized by the window’s invisible grid.
  11. Select a folder background option:
    • White—This options gets you the standard white background.
    • Color—Use the Color placeholder to open the Color Picker to select the background color you want to use.
    • Picture—To select a picture to use as the background, either drag a picture file from a Finder window and drop it on the picture placeholder, or click the picture placeholder and then use the Select a Picture dialog box to select a background image.
  12. Click Use As Defaults.

After you have made these settings, any window you view in Icon view is displayed using your default preferences unless you override the global settings by setting a window’s preference.

To change the preferences for an individual window, do the following:

  1. Open the window you want to view and put it in the Icon view.
  2. Open the View Options window by selecting View, Show View Options (or press Command-J).
  3. Use the controls to set the Icon view preferences for the window you opened in step 1 (see the previous steps for help).

This window uses the preferences you set for it until you change them.

Customizing the List View

Customizing List view works pretty much the same way as Icon view, except that you have different options.

Set your default List view preferences using the following steps:

  1. Open a Finder window in List view.
  2. Open the View Options window (Command-J).
  3. Select the radio button for the icon size you want to use.
  4. Select the text size using the Text Size pop-up menu.
  5. In the Show Columns area, activate the check boxes next to the data columns you want to be displayed in List view. The default data are Date Modified, Size, and Kind. The other data available are Date Created, Version, Comments, and Label.
  6. Activate the Use Relative Dates check box if you want to use relative dates, which means you see date values that are relative to today (such as Yesterday or Past Week) for some dates rather than the full date for all dates.
  7. Activate the Calculate All Sizes check box if you want the size of folders to be displayed in the Size column. This option uses extra computing power, especially for those folders that contain many folders and files. You should usually leave this box unchecked unless folder size information is critical to you.
  8. Activate the Show Icon Preview check box to have the Finder display a preview icon of a selected item, rather than a generic icon.
  9. Click Use As Defaults.

Every window you see in List view uses these options, unless you override the settings for a particular window.

Overriding the default options for a specific window is analogous to what you do for the Icon view. Open the window, open the View Options window, and use the controls to set the view options for the current window.

Customizing the Column View

The Column view has fewer customization options than the other views. The Column view preferences you set apply to all windows in the Column view. You can customize the column view by doing the following:

  1. Open a Finder window in Column view.
  2. Open the View Options window (Command-J).
  3. Select the text size using the Text Size pop-up menu.
  4. Deactivate the Show Icons check box to hide the icons in the window.
  5. Deactivate the Show Icon Preview check box to have the Finder display a generic icon instead of a preview icon of a selected item.
  6. Deactivate the Show Preview Column check box if you prefer not to see the preview of a file you have selected in the ­window.
  7. Use the Arrange By pop-up menu to select the criterion by which you want icons grouped on the pop-up menu: Name, Date Modified, Date Created, Size, Kind, or Label.

Customizing the Cover Flow View

The view options for Cover Flow windows are identical to the options you have for a List view. Because the Cover Flow view includes a list view in the bottom pane, it is beneficial to be able to set these options.

Set your default Cover Flow view preferences using the following steps:

  1. Open a Finder window in Cover Flow view.
  2. Open the View Options window (Command-J).
  3. Select the radio button for the icon size you want to use.
  4. Select the text size using the Text Size pop-up menu.
  5. In the Show Columns area, activate the check boxes next to the data columns you want to be displayed in List view. The default data are Date Modified, Size, and Kind. The other data available are Date Created, Version, Comments, and Label.
  6. Activate the Use Relative Dates check box if you want to use relative dates, which means you see date values that are relative to today (such as Yesterday or Past Week) for some dates rather than the full date for all dates.
  7. Activate the Calculate All Sizes check box if you want the size of folders to be displayed in the Size column. This option uses extra computing power, especially for those folders that contain many folders and files. You should usually leave this box unchecked unless folder size information is critical to you.
  8. Activate the Show Icon Preview check box to have the Finder display a preview icon of a selected item, rather than a generic icon.
  9. Click Use As Defaults.
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