Navigating Windows in Mac OS X Lion - dummies

Navigating Windows in Mac OS X Lion

By Bob LeVitus

Windows are a ubiquitous part of using a Mac. When you open a folder in OS X Lion, you see a window. When you write a letter, the document that you’re working on appears in a window. When you browse the Internet, web pages appear in a window . . . and so on.

For the most part, windows are windows from program to program. You’ll probably notice that some programs (Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Word, for example) take liberties with windows by adding features (such as pop-up menus) or textual information (such as zoom percentage or file size) in the scroll-bar area of a document window.

Don’t let it bug you; that extra fluff is just window dressing (pun intended). Maintaining the window metaphor, many information windows display different kinds of information in different panes, or discrete sections.

And so, without further ado, the following list gives you a look at the main features of a typical Finder window.


If your windows don’t look exactly like this one, don’t be concerned. You can make your windows look and feel any way you like.

Meanwhile, here’s what you see (clockwise from top left):

  • Close, Minimize, and Zoom (gumdrop) buttons: Shut ’em, shrink and place ’em in the Dock, and make ’em grow.

  • View buttons: Choose among four exciting views of your window: Icon, List, Column, and Cover Flow.

  • Item Arrangement menu: Click this little doohickey to arrange this window’s icons by Kind, Application, Date Modified, Date Created, Date Last Opened, Date Added, Size or Label.

  • Quick Look/Slideshow button: Gives you a quick peek at the contents of the selected item. If more than one item is selected, it gives you a quick peek at one item and Next and Previous buttons so you can view the others slideshow style.

  • Action button: This button is really a pop-up menu of commands you can apply to currently selected items in the Finder window.

  • Window title: Shows the name of the window. Command+click the name of the window to see a pop-up menu with the complete path to this folder (try it).

  • Search field: Type a string of characters here, and Mac OS X Lion digs into your system to find items that match by filename or document contents (yes, words within documents).

  • Toolbar: Buttons for frequently used commands and actions.

  • Window Resizer: Click and drag here to resize the window.

  • Icon Resizer: Use this slide control to change the size of the icons in this window.

  • Scroll bars: Use the scroll bars for moving around a window.

  • Sidebar: Frequently used items live here.

  • Forward and Back buttons: These buttons take you to the next or previous folder displayed in this particular window.

    If you’re familiar with web browsers, the Forward and Back buttons in the Finder work exactly the same way.