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Setting Finder Preferences in Mac OS X

You can change a number of settings to customize the Finder itself. From the Finder menu, click Finder and choose the Preferences menu item to display the Finder Preferences dialog box that you see in Figure 1.


Figure 1: You can configure Finder preferences here.

In the General section, the preference settings include

  • Displaying icons on the Desktop: Enable these check boxes to display your hard disks, removable volumes (including CDs, DVDs, and Zip disks), and connected network servers.
  • New Finder Windows Open: Click the drop-down list box to specify the spot where a new Finder window should open. By default, a new window displays the contents of your Home folder.
  • Always Open Folders in a New Window: When this check box is enabled, double-clicking a folder will open it in a new Finder window, as did earlier versions of Mac OS. (If disabled, the contents of the folder appear in the same Finder window, which makes it easier to focus on just the folder you need at the moment.)
  • Open New Windows in Column View: When you enable this check box, each new Finder window that you open automatically uses column view. (If disabled, the new window uses the last view mode you used.)
  • Spring-loaded Folders and Windows: It sounds a little wacky, but using this feature can definitely speed up file copying. If this check box is enabled, you can drag an item on top of a folder — without releasing the mouse button — and after a preset time (controlled by the Delay slider), a spring-loaded window appears to show you the folder's contents. At that point, you can either release the mouse button to drop the file inside the folder (upon which the window disappears), or you can drag the icon on top of another subfolder to spring it forth and drill even deeper.

Pssst. Hovering over a folder and pressing the spacebar makes the folder spring open immediately. Pass it on.

The Labels preference panel is a simple one — just click next to each label color to type your own text for that label.

From the Sidebar preferences panel, you can choose which default items should appear in the Finder window Sidebar column. Your choices include locations (like your Home and Applications folders), network servers, removable media, the Desktop itself, and — naturally — your hard drives. To add a default item to the Sidebar column, select the corresponding check box to enable it or disable the check box to banish that item forthwith.

The Advanced preference settings include

  • Always Show File Extensions: If this check box is enabled, the Finder displays the file extensions at the end of filenames, à la Windows. This comes in handy for some applications, where everything from a document to a preference file to the application itself all share the same icon. However, if you find extensions distasteful, leave things set with the default of extensions off.
  • Show Warning Before Emptying the Trash: By default, this check box is enabled, and Mac OS X displays a confirmation dialog box before allowing you to — in the words of Mac OS X patrons around the world — toss the Bit Bucket. If you're interested in speed and trust your judgment (and your mouse finger), you can disable this setting.

After you make the desired changes to the Finder Preferences, click the dialog box's Close button to save your settings and return to the Finder.

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