AMITIAE - Sunday 4 January 2015

Cassandra: Some Ideas for Quick Finder Navigation

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By Graham K. Rogers


There are a number of ways to modify the Finder window, including some tricks that allow me to add quick links to folders I use many times a day. While I could drag these into the Finder sidebar, to go with those I already opt to use, users may find that the list of items could be quite long eventually, thus reducing efficiency.

Sidebar One that I have included for a while is the Utilities folder. This is normally nestled inside the Applications folder and contains several useful programs that I want quick access to. If I had to enter Applications, scroll down, then open Utilities, that is 3 actions even before finding the specific utility wanted.

As the Utilities folder is not listed in the Finder Preferences > Sidebar section, a user would have to locate the folder in Applications, then drag it into the Finder sidebar. This does not move the folder itself, but creates an Alias: it represents a real folder (or a file).

As a file or folder is dragged into the sidebar, either a folder is highlighted, allowing the user to drop the alias into that location, or a line appears, showing a location between folders. My choice is to position that alias just below the Applications icon.

At the top of the Finder panel, is the toolbar. Like the windows of many applications, it is possible to add, remove or modify the Toolbar, by accessing the View menu and clicking on Customize Toolbar. This may also be accessed, using the Control + Option + Y keys combination. When the panel is open, icons may be dragged to the Toolbar, repositioned or removed.

Customize Toolbar

A number of icon options are available, including 3rd party icons: in my case Dropbox (only for use when the Dropbox folder is in use). The choice is up to the user: it is a personal computer after all. I opt for icons that allow quick changes of icon types (list, columns, coverflow), QuickLook, and Actions, as well as Trash, File Information and creating a folder. panel allows for this. However, to save time opening that panel, it is also possible to make changes by clicking on the Toolbar while holding down the Control key.

As a quick note on key-commands, pressing the Option key will change the QuickLook icon in the Toolbar; if the Option key is pressed and user clicks on the Quicklook icon, any file highlighted will be displayed full-screen.

I also have certain folders and files on the Toolbar. This used to be a simple drag and drop operation but in the last couple of versions of OS X, that became impossible. Instead there is an undocumented way to do this by using the Command key. In a similar way to how files or folders are dragged to the Sidebar, pressing the Command key while dragging an item, allows that to be placed (or positioned or removed) on the Toolbar.

Customize Toolbar

I have folders related to my website as I want access to these several times a day. It is also possible to place file aliases on the toolbar. For example, I wanted to use a specific video in a class and instead if burrowing down many levels to find, then open the file, I dragged it to the Toolbar and when I click on the icon it opens in QuickTime.

Like the Toolbar icons and those in the Sidebar, these folder and file aliases are available in any open Finder window.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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