Getting to Know the Finder in Mac OS X Tiger

A finder window is a handy friend, and the Finder is indeed a window (or multiple windows) in OS X Tiger. Use the Finder to navigate through files, folders, and applications on your hard drive — or to connect to other Macs and Internet servers — right from your Desktop.

Finding the Finder

If you don't see a finder window on the Desktop when your Mac finishes the start-up process, you probably closed it the last time that the Mac was on. So how do you find the Finder window again?

  • Click the Finder icon in the Dock. (It's the one with a blue smiley Mac face on it.)
  • Choose File --> New Finder window (or use the keyboard shortcut Command+N), and a Finder window appears. New Finder windows always open up showing your Home directory. In other words, they open up labeled YourShortName, the same as if you chose Go --> Home or clicked the Home Button in the Sidebar.

In Finder Preferences, you can change what is displayed when a New Finder window opens — to your Home, Computer, Documents folder, or any other folder you choose.

An old pal with new tricks

If you're an experienced Mac user, you know the Finder well. Every version of Mac OS before Max OS X has included a Finder, and its appearance has been pretty much the same since 1984. What's new in the Mac OS X Finder is that you can use a single window instead of multiple windows if you like. Imagine using a single window to display just about everything stored on all your hard drives and removable disks. Instead of opening a new window for each folder or disk, the Mac OS X Finder can display everything in the same window, shifting your view of items as you click or select them with buttons in the window.

If you liked it the old way and prefer multiple Finder windows onscreen, you can tell your Mac to give you what you want temporarily or permanently. To open a folder or disk in a new window just this once, merely hold down the Command key when you double-click the folder or disk and it will open in a new window. To make that the default behavior for your Finder, set your Finder Preferences (in the Finder menu) to open a new window when you double-click a folder.

If you've hidden the toolbar by clicking a Finder window's Hide/Show Toolbar button, new windows open automatically when you open a folder — you don't have to hold down the Command key at all. This can be quite disconcerting. All of a sudden, Finder windows behave differently as a result of your doing something totally unrelated — hiding the Toolbar.

One last thing: If you want to use the new one-window approach on a window with its toolbar hidden — or if you've set your Finder Preferences to open folders in a new window — just hold down the Option key when you double-click a folder or disk. It closes the current window and opens the new window as if you had never hidden the toolbar or changed the Finder preference setting.

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