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Keeping Things Organized in Mac OS X Tiger

Mac OS X gives you the ability to manage these documents and folders, to move them around, change their names, create new ones, and get rid of the ones you don't need anymore. In this chapter, you will see how to use the tools that Mac OS X gives you to accomplish these tasks.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

In This Chapter:

  • Find an Item

  • Create a New Folder

  • Create a Smart Folder That Contains Certain Types of Items

  • Rename a Folder or Document

  • Make an Alias (Shortcut)

  • Change an Icon

  • Set a Color Label

  • Move, Copy, or Delete a Document or Folder

  • Burn a CD/DVD

  • Add a Newly Installed Hard Disk to the System

  • Partition a Hard Disk

  • Assign a Folder Action

  • Add a Second Display

  • Set the Time and Date

  • Enable Automatic Time Synchronization (NTP)

Mac OS X, like all operating systems, is designed to help you organize data. This data is represented using the industry-standard "desktop" metaphor, originally pioneered by the first Macintosh and its precursors. In the desktop metaphor, any meaningful grouping of data under a single name—a picture, an audio recording, a shopping list—is represented by a document (also known as a file, a term that will be used interchangeably with document in this book). Documents can be sorted into folders, which are simply containers for documents. Folders can contain other folders as well as documents, and thus you can organize all your information into a hierarchy that resembles a large, ungainly filing cabinet.

Mac OS X gives you the ability to manage these documents and folders, to move them around, change their names, create new ones, and get rid of the ones you don't need anymore. In the context of modern computing hardware, this means that Mac OS X must enable you to manipulate disks—hard disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, and other such devices that store your documents. In this chapter, you will see how to use the tools that Mac OS X gives you to accomplish these tasks.

Furthermore, as your computing needs grow, so does the need for Mac OS X to adapt to them. Over time, you will probably feel the need to add memory, new hard disks, and even second displays in order to keep up with the pace of the technology you interact with at home and at work. This chapter discusses how to add a new hard disk to your system and configure it to hold your expanding data; it also covers how to add a second display and configure it to your liking. Finally, because keeping your Mac's internal clock accurate is so crucial to the internal system functions as well as to applications such as iCal that keep track of your schedule for you, this chapter discusses how to set the time and date, and how to set up your computer to configure them automatically.

Find an Item

See Also

    Create a Smart Folder That Contains Certain Types of Items

    Make an Alias (Shortcut)

The Macintosh Operating System has always excelled at finding your stuff; after all, they don't call its navigation system the Finder for nothing. In Mac OS X Tiger, however, Apple has brought searching technology to a whole new level, with a feature called Spotlight. This technology is a database subsystem overlaid upon the filesystem, invisibly, that constantly indexes every new item added to the computer on the basis of kind, creator, last-opened date, and a litany of other criteria. Whereas the Finder in previous versions of the operating system only allowed you to search the names of files looking for a match to a text string you typed in, Spotlight expands this functionality to allow you to search documents' contents, authors, comments, media-specific attributes, and just about any other associated pieces of data.

Furthermore, Spotlight is integrated into the Finder, as well as into applications such as Mail and Address Book. Within the Finder, you can create create sophisticated "canned" searches based on detailed query criteria, and save the results of those queries into what are known as Smart Folders, as you will see in Create a Smart Folder That Contains Certain Types of Items.

  1. Open the Spotlight Search Bar

  2. Click the magnifying-glass icon at the far right end of the Mac OS X title bar. The Spotlight search bar appears, prompting you for text terms on which to search.

  3. Enter Your Search Terms

  4. Type a word (or a few words) of text that matches the name of a document you're looking for, the author, or the document's contents. As you type, a list of matching items immediately expands below the Spotlight bar. These results are grouped by kind: first the "top hit," or the item in which your search terms matched most closely or frequently; then Chats in which the terms appeared, text or Word documents, folders whose names matched, HTML (web) documents, and so on alphabetically. Only a few results are shown—two or three per category. If you see the result you want in this listing, simply click its title in the list, and it will open in its designated opener application. If the file has no application associated with it, see Assign an Opener Application to a File.

  5. Browse All Matching Items

  6. Chances are that there won't just be one or two matches to your search terms—there'll be hundreds. Click the topmost item in the Spotlight results menu, Show All, to reveal a new application window with detailed and navigable results of everything that matches your search terms. This full-featured Spotlight window lets you select how the results are grouped: by Kind, Date (the time each item was last opened), People (authors and artists, according to how each kind of document defines them), or a flat list of all matching items regardless of category, sorted by date of last access.

    Within a category, several options are available for revealing more information about the items that Spotlight returned. Click the i icon next to any item to show detailed information about it. Each category by default shows only the top five matches (sorted by the date of last access), and you can click a link at the bottom of each category to see all the matching items of that type. In some categories, such as Images and Movies, you can choose between List or Icon view modes to see larger previews of each item. Movie files can even be played right in this window, just as Music files can be played in their expanded Info panes.

    When you've located the item you're looking for, double-click it to open it in its designated opener application.

  7. Search Within the Finder

  8. The Spotlight search mechanism is great for quickly finding an item with textual characteristics that you can match by typing search terms. However, Spotlight integrated with the Finder presents an even more powerful way to search. What if you wanted to craft a very specific search query for, say, image (picture) files created within the last two weeks, with size greater than one megabyte, and with dimensions greater than 1000 pixels wide? With the Spotlight database working its magic, you can.

    Choose File, Find or press Command F while in the Finder. A new Finder window appears, with its document pane in New Search mode.

  9. Select the Searching Scope

  10. Use the names at the top of the window to define where you want the Finder to look for your items. The Servers option searches any network volumes currently mounted, Computer uses all available disks and volumes in the computer, and Home confines the search to the folder hierarchy within your Home folder. You can add more searching scopes using the Others button.

  11. Add Search Criteria

  12. The Finder's search mode allows you to specify as many different searching criteria as you want; all the criteria must apply for the results to match. For instance, you can search for items whose filename contains art, whose filename begins with A, whose kind is audio, and whose last-modified date is after last Christmas. You make room for new criteria by clicking the + icon after any criterion line; then use the drop-down menus to define what kind of criteria they are and what sort of comparisons to use. Use the icon on any criterion line to delete that criterion.

    The criteria in the first drop-down menu aren't the only ones you have to work with. Select Other from the menu; a sheet appears with a long list of specialized search attributes that apply only to certain kinds of data, such as the aperture size for photos, the authors of a text document, the headline of a news item from the Web, or the pixel width and height of image files. Select one of these attributes and click OK to add it to your search criteria. If you click Add to Favorites, the attribute will be added to the drop-down menu for easy access later.

  13. Enter Search Terms

  14. Optionally, enter text in the Search bar in the Finder's toolbar (next to the magnifying glass). This text is added to the search criteria—all results must match the entered terms as well as whatever criteria you've set up so far.

  15. Explore the Search Results

  16. As you add search criteria, the results are shown in real-time in the Finder window, organized as in the Spotlight results window. You can click the i icon next to any item to view detailed information about it, as well as a More Info button, which reveals the item's Info pane. You can list certain kinds of files in the interactive Icon view. Click any item in the list, and its location on the disk is shown in a path listing at the bottom of the window. You can see the series of folders (in a horizontal layout) you'll have to navigate through to get to the item, or double-click any one of the listed folders to go to that folder's Finder window.

    You can double-click a file anywhere in the search results window to launch it in its opener application. You can also drag any listed item from the results window to the Desktop or another Finder window to copy it, or hold down Command while dragging to move it.

Create a New Folder

See Also

    Create a Smart Folder That Contains Certain Types of Items

    Rename a Folder or Document

    Change an Icon

    Set a Color Label

The basic unit of document storage is the folder. A folder can reside in any place in on a disk, and folders (and folders within folders within folders) are what make up the hierarchical organization of any Mac OS X system.

Mac OS X provides you a number of special-purpose folders inside your Home folder for storing certain kinds of documents. You can always create new folders to suit your purposes, and you can keep those new folders anywhere you like. For instance, you might create a folder on your Desktop to hold Word files for a project you're working on, and then move that folder into your Documents folder when you're done with it, so you can easily find it later. The first step in all this organizational wizardry is creating that new folder.

  1. Open a Finder Window

  2. Click the Finder icon at the far left end of the Dock. Alternatively, click anywhere on the Desktop to switch to the Finder, and then press Command N to open a new Finder window.

  3. Navigate to Where You Want the New Folder

  4. Using whichever view modes you find most convenient, move through the folders in your Home folder until you're at the position where you want to create the new folder.

  5. Create the Folder

  6. Select File, New Folder. Alternatively, press Shift+Command+N or select New Folder from the Action button menu in the Finder window. A new folder appears in the listing, with the name untitled folder.

  7. Name the Folder

  8. The new folder's name is selected as soon as it's created, so you can immediately type a new name for it. You can use any name that doesn't duplicate the name of any other item in the current folder. When you're done typing the name, press Return to commit the change.

Create a Smart Folder That Contains Certain Types of Items

Before You Begin

    Find an Item

    Create a New Folder

See Also

    Rename a Folder or Document

    Change an Icon

    Set a Color Label

New in Mac OS X Tiger, Smart Folders are really just a way to save a Spotlight search as a "canned" query. You can't put items into a Smart Folder the way you would a regular folder; rather, the Smart Folder's contents are dynamically updated to match the results of a saved search.

When you define a search using the Finder, the criteria you use to create the search can be saved to a new Smart Folder, which you can store anywhere you like, and open as you would a regular folder to view its contents. There are several ways to create a new Smart Folder, but they all center upon the process of defining a query from Spotlight search criteria within the Finder.

  1. Open a Finder Window

  2. Switch to the Finder by clicking the Finder icon in the Dock, or by clicking anywhere on the Desktop. Creating a new Smart Folder begins with defining a new search for items in the system; there are several ways to do this once you're in the Finder.

  3. Create a New Smart Folder

  4. From the File menu, choose New Smart Folder. This command brings up a new Finder window with a blank Spotlight query in the navigation pane, with blank criteria for Kind and Last Opened already set up for you to use if you want. The new folder is not placed anywhere until you have saved your search.

    Alternately, choose File, Find (or press Command F) to bring up a New Search window. This method differs from New Smart Folder only in that it starts at the global level, and thus does not have the current Finder location among the searching scope buttons at the top of the pane.

  5. Build Your Search Query

  6. Build up your query terms according to the steps in Find an Item. Be sure to select the correct search scope, and to add textual search terms if necessary by entering them into the Search bar. As you add query terms, the list of matching files is shown in the Finder window.

  7. Save the Query As a Smart Folder

  8. When you're satisfied with your search terms and results, click the Save button. You are prompted for a name for the new untitled Smart Folder, and for a location to place it. The default location for Smart Folders is the Saved Searches folder in your Home, and you can also choose the Desktop or your Home folder; however, once the Smart Folder is saved, you can move it anywhere you like. Select the Add to Sidebar check box to make the new Smart Folder appear in every Finder window's Sidebar for quick access.

    After the Smart Folder has been saved, you can navigate into it as you would any other folder. Smart Folders are indicated with a "gear" symbol on the folder icon. As you add new files to the computer, the contents of the Smart Folder are automatically updated to reflect all files that match the search criteria.

  9. Modify an Existing Smart Folder

  10. If the search criteria in a Smart Folder turn out not to be what you need, you can adjust them at any time. Open the Smart Folder; click the Edit button at the top of the document list. The search criteria are then shown at the top of the navigation pane. Use the + and buttons to add or remove search criteria and modify them to fit your needs. When you're done, click Save; the Smart Folder is now redefined upon your revised criteria. To cancel modifying a Smart Folder, simply close the Finder window.

Rename a Folder or Document

Before You Begin

    Create a New Folder

See Also

    Make an Alias (Shortcut)

    Set a Color Label

Renaming a folder or document in Mac OS X is a seemingly simple process that hides some surprising complexity. On the face of it, there's really nothing to it: Select the item, type in the new name, and you're done. However, there are a few hidden complications to watch out for.

One of these complications is that of filename extensions. In Mac OS X, these extensions are usually (but not always) required to define a document's type—but you don't have to see them. Extensions can be turned off on a per-document basis. If you rename the document in the Finder so that the extension is removed, for example by renaming Picture1.jpg to Picture1, the extension merely becomes a hidden attribute of the document. Similarly, if you add the appropriate extension to a document, it merely becomes "un-hidden." If you add an incorrect extension (such as .txt to a .jpg file), Mac OS X warns you that proceeding can cause the file to become associated with the wrong application or stop working properly, and gives you the option to proceed with the extension change or stick with the old one.

By hiding documents' extensions, Mac OS X guarantees that the extension will be there if you transfer the file to a Windows machine, where extensions are required for documents to work properly.

A few common extensions are listed here:


Kind of Document


Picture (Joint Photographic Experts Group)


Picture (Graphics Interchange Format)


Microsoft Word document


Rich Text Format document


Plain Text document


QuickTime movie


Web page (Hypertext Markup Language)


Page layout (Portable Document Format)


Mountable Disk Image file


ZIP archive (Windows-style)


StuffIt archive (Mac-style)


AppleWorks document (originally ClarisWorks)


Pages document


Keynote presentation

  1. Locate the Item to Rename

  2. Open a Finder window and navigate to the folder containing the document or folder you want to rename.

  3. Select the Filename

  4. For the item you want to rename, click the filename underneath or beside the icon. The item becomes selected (a darkened box appears around it) and the filename turns into an editable text field. Alternatively, click the icon to select it and then press Return to activate the filename as an editable field.

  5. Type the New Name

  6. Type whatever name you like into the name field. Filenames can be any length up to 255 characters.

    You can use almost any letters, numbers, or symbols in filenames, including characters in Japanese, Russian, and many other languages. However, there are a couple of exceptions to this freedom. Colons (:) are not allowed in filenames because the internal architecture of Mac OS X uses the colon to signify the separation between folders in the path to an item. You similarly can't use a period (.) as the first letter of a filename, because that has special meaning for Mac OS X.

    Some applications may also prevent you from creating files with a slash (/) in the name, or names longer than 31 characters. These are limitations in the applications, though (caused by the merging of Unix and the old Mac OS), not in Mac OS X.

  7. Press Return

  8. Press Return to commit the change. Alternatively, click anywhere on the Desktop or the folder window to deselect the item and make the name change stick.

Make an Alias (Shortcut)

Before You Begin

    Find an Item

    Rename a Folder or Document

See Also

    Change an Icon

Sometimes you will have need to keep a document (or folder, or application) in more than once place at once. You might have a Word document in your Documents folder or a song in your Music folder, but you might also want to have it on your Desktop for easy access. The Dock provides some of this convenience, but sometimes what you really want is to create an alias—a shortcut to a document, folder, or application. This is helpful in situations where an application or another user expects to be able to find a document in a certain folder, but you want to have it in a more convenient place for yourself—but you don't want to make a duplicate that can get changed independently of the original. An alias lets you access one item from two, three, or as many locations in the system as you want, while leaving the original item unmoved.

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