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10 simple tricks to improve Finder in macOS

The Finder is the application that most of us use to interact with our Mac file system. It is the default application for browsing folders and files stored on the computer and also on external drives that we connect through the computer’s ports.

Its default setting is sufficient for many people, but by changing some settings you can get a much better experience during regular use of Finder.

10 simple tricks to improve Finder in macOS
10 simple tricks to improve Finder in macOS

Changing options such as making it show file extensions or showing hidden files can make a big difference to our productivity. That’s why we decided to build this collection with 10 simple tricks to improve Finder on macOS (Mac OS X).

1.- Always show file extensions

macOS does not show the default file extensions. This can be a major inconvenience, since you won’t be able to tell if you are working with one type of file or another without having to look at the information with the loss of time that this entails.

Changing this behaviour and having your Mac show you the extension of all files is very simple.

1.- Click on the menu FinderPreferences in the upper left of the screen.

2.- In the new window that opens click on the tab Advanced and then check the box Show file name extensions .

2.- Show the grouped folders above the files

This option is present in Windows from practically the beginning, but in Mac it didn’t arrive until the landing of MacOS Sierra. Luckily it is now available and activating it is as simple as:

1.- Click on the menu FinderPreferences in the upper left of the screen.

2.- In the new window that opens click on the tab Advanced and then check the box Keep folders at the top when sorting by name .

More information : How to keep folders up when sorting by name

3.- Open new windows in the user’s main folder

By default Finder opens new windows showing ” All my files “. This can be a convenient option if you want to open the last files you worked on, but in most cases the most logical option is to show the home folder of the active user.

To change this what you have to do is:

1.- Access Preferences from the menu Finder in the top left corner of the computer.

In the Preferences window , under the General tab , choose the folder with your username in the drop-down menu .

4.- Show the status bar

Finder’s status bar is very useful , but for some reason Apple has decided to keep it off by default. In this bar you can see everything from the free space on your Mac’s hard drive to the number of items (files and folders) and the folder you are in.

To activate the status bar, open any Finder window, click on the menu Display at the top of the screen and then choose the option Show Status Bar .

5.- Show the route bar

The route bar is also a useful feature of Finder that is disabled by default. Thanks to it you can see at any time which particular file system path you are on . It is also possible to directly access one of the folders in the path by clicking on it, so you can avoid having to click on the back button several times if you are in a folder in a very deep tree.

As above, to activate the route bar, open a Finder window, click on the menu Display and then activate the option Show route bar .

6.- Show the user folder in the sidebar

Considering that many users save their files in the home folder that macOS creates by default, this should be enabled by default, but for some reason Apple has decided not to.

To display your user’s home folder in Finder’s sidebar you must do the following:

Open a Finder window and click on the menu Finder in the upper left corner of the screen. In the menu that opens click on Preferences .

2.- In the new window go to the tab Sidebar and check the box next to your username.

7.- Customizing the toolbar

You may miss or have some of the buttons on Finder’s toolbar left over, so customizing it is a very good idea. Thanks to this option you can leave it as you like and so have the buttons you really need in your day to day life .

To customize the Finder toolbar follow these steps:

Open a Finder window and click on the menu DisplayCustomize toolbar at the top of the screen.

Drag the buttons you want to add or remove to the toolbar following the instructions in the window that appears in step 1.

8.- Always show the Library folder

The Library folder contains all the operating system and application preference files, cache and other system files. Because of its importance it is hidden by default , but if you are an advanced user you may need to access it regularly.

If this is your case, you can always make it show up in Finder windows by entering the following command in a Terminal window:

chflags nohidden /Library/

9.- Show hidden files

Hidden files are usually hidden for some reason, so once again we insist that this option should be reserved more for advanced users who know exactly what they are doing.

If this is your case you can make Finder always show the hidden files by entering the following command in the MacOS Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -bool YES && killall Finder

10.- Displaying folder and file information

Enabling the Show Information option can be tremendously useful for day-to-day use. By activating this option you can, for example, get Finder to show you the number of files in the folders or see the resolution of the images next to their name .

This is a particularly useful option for those of us who work with images or graphics on a regular basis and activating it is as simple as that:

Open a Finder window and click on DisplayDisplay options .

2.- In the window that opens, check the box Show information (available only in icon view, if using list view or other, the option does not appear).

Would you add any more points?

These are the points we have come up with to improve the Finder experience , but surely you know of others that can help us improve the list. Will you help us complete it by leaving a comment with your tips for Finder?

  • c3sar April 27, 2017 at 1:31 am, how can we leave the width adjustment of each column fixed? ReplyManu Iglesias April 27, 2017 at 11:29 am Hello C3sar,You can adjust the bars and then click on Display – Show display options and choose the option Use by default; although to be honest this does not always work and you may have to adjust the width of the columns more times.Reply
  • LUCIO MARTIN VELASCO May 6, 2018 at 6:30 pm WITH MUCH FREQUENCY THE APPLICATION OF FINDER DOES NOT RESPOND AND I HAVE TO RESTART…WHAT STEPS DO I TAKE… (NI IDEA DE INGLES)ResponderManu Iglesias 6 May, 2018 at 9:25 pm Hello Lucio,It is very difficult to know, it could be because of some software you have installed or some fault of Finder himself…Responder
  • Ivan May 21, 2018 at 8:30 pm Hi, about trick No. 3. I already selected the new folder but when I close and open the finder it still shows “All my files”. Only when I open a new tab does it open in the folder I want. I really don’t know if it’s a mac bug or if I’m doing something wrong. I would like to know if there is any other way to change it. Greetings.ReplyManu Iglesias May 21, 2018 at 10:29 pm Hello Ivan,In principle if you have followed the steps as in the article should open the folder you say. After all that option changes the general settings of Finder.Responder
  • Hector May 29, 2018 at 4:26 pm To focus on what I’m doing I always use these options to hide apps.HIDE APP IN USE:Method 1: Cmd+HMethod 2: Left click+Alt on the app icon in the DockHIDE APP INACTIVE:Method 1: Cmd+Alt+HMethod 2: Left click+Cmd+Alt on the app icon in the DockResponder
  • carlos 14 June, 2018 at 8:37 am I can’t see the photo folderResponder
  • Luis Adasme July 25, 2018 at 5:59 pm The Finder’s search engine does not work with external disks, it only searches in the same computer, some suggestion or nothing to do?Answer
  • Rarfael January 4, 2019 at 7:39 pm How to remove and put the little arrows that allow to display down the content of a folder?

  • Guillermo 28 November, 2019 at 11:03 am Hello Manu, thanks for your tips and tricks! One question. In one of my computers when I am modifying a file (no matter what program I am using) and I want to save it with another name (save as…), it suggests the last location I used instead of the location where the file I am modifying is. This means that when I do “save as…” I have to look for the folder since the one that suggests has nothing to do with it… You can fix this… Yesterday I was working on the BUDGETS folder. Today I open a file in the folder BILLS, I modify it, I do “save as…” and it suggests me the folder BUDGETS instead of the folder BILLS which is where I am working… You can change this… Thank you in advance for your helpResponderManu Iglesias November 28, 2019 at 5:41 pm Hello Guillermo,I swear that it is not possible to do so and that it depends more on the options chosen by the developer of the application you are using. Not all behave the same way, some always open a default folder, others the last one you used, etc, etc… I’m sorry I’m not more helpful in this case Muchas thanks for commenting! Respond
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