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Leopard's Finder

May 15, 2009 - Dave Hecei
If you have a new Mac, or you are the type that keeps their Mac OS up-to-date, then you have OS X 10.5, Leopard. The latest operating system from Apple is an amazing ensemble of many smaller pieces. When a Mac is powered on, OS X starts its boot process. When finished, there is one program that is running, and it is always running. It’s called the Finder.

The Finder has been around since day one with the release of the original Macintosh. The Finder is what gives the Mac its ‘look and feel’. Mac OS X Finder has come a long way since the old Mac OS days. The Finder has even changed quite a bit since OS X 10.4 (Tiger).

The Finder can be thought of as the ‘manager’. By using the Finder, you can browse through the contents of your Mac’s hard drive, CD/DVDs, and any ‘shared’ drive from a networked computer or server. You also use the Finder to move files from one place to another (copying) or to delete them (trashing).

If you double click on the icon for your Mac’s hard drive, a Finder window will appear (see image 1). The Finder window has a list of items on the left called the sidebar (A). The main part of the Finder window shows all the files and programs in the current location (B). Files can be viewed several ways in Leopard. If you look near the top center part of the Finder window you should see four buttons. This is where you can select how you view files. The buttons allow you to view items as: icons (C), lists (D), columns (E), or cover flow (F). Some of the other parts of the Finder window are: (G) Quick Look, (H) Actions, (I) Title Bar, and (J) Search.

Along the left side of the Finder window is the Sidebar (image 1). This has also been updated in Leopard, which adds a few new features. The Sidebar (A) now has four sections: Devices, Shared, Places, and Search For. Under the Devices list are simply all the devices, or physical disks, attached to your Mac. Under Shared is where you will find any computer, server, or network storage available for access. Places is where you find common used, well, ‘places’. The default Places are: Home, Desktop, Applications, and Documents. On my Mac I like to add to this list (which you can easily do by just dragging the folder and dropping it in the list) other folders from your Home directory (the house icon). Here I added: Downloads, Movies, Music, Pictures, and the Utilities folder found in the Application Folder.

The most common way most users view files is either icon or list view (image 2 and 3). When viewed as icons, the contents of the drive or folder you are in appear as icons with the files name below it. These can be sorted and moved however you like. The size of the icons is controlled by the View Options menu, which can be brought up by clicking on the View menu (image 4). It’s located at the very bottom.

Column view is a left over from the NeXT OS that Apple bought back when they brought Steve Jobs back (image 5). Column View is a unique way to quickly navigate through many folders. When you invoke Column View, clicking once on a folder will bring up its contents in the next column. If you get a chance, try using this view just to see how fast you can go 4 or 5 folders deep. It is very fast. When you get to an item, say a document, double click on it to open the file. The width of each column, in Column View, can be easily changed. If you look at the bottom right of each column you should see a small button with two vertical lines. You can click drag on this button to change the width of that column.



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