How to Set Finder Preferences in macOS Sierra - dummies

How to Set Finder Preferences in macOS Sierra

By Bob LeVitus

You can find Finder and Desktop preferences in macOS Sierra by choosing Finder → Preferences. In the Finder Preferences window that appears, click the icons in the toolbar to select one of the four Finder preference panes: General, Tags, Sidebar, and Advanced.

General pane

In the General pane, you find the following options:

  • Show These Items on the Desktop check boxes: Select or deselect these check boxes to choose whether icons for hard drives; external disks; CDs, DVDs, and iPods; and connected servers appear on the Desktop. macOS Sierra deselects all four options by default. If you don’t want disk icons cluttering your beautiful Desktop, deselect (clear) these check boxes. When they’re deselected, you can still work with hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and other types of disks. You just have to open a Finder window and select the disk or disc you want in the Sidebar.
  • New Finder Windows Show: Here, you can choose whether opening a new Finder window displays All My Files, your Home folder, the Documents or Desktop folders, or any other disk or folder. (All My Files is the default.)
  • Open Folders in Tabs Instead of New Windows check box: Selecting this check box spawns a new tab in the current window when you press ⌘ and double-click a folder or disk

Don’t enable it, and ⌘+double-clicking a folder or disk icon opens it in a new window.

The default behavior is for folders to open in place when you double-click (open) them, which prevents window clutter. If you want a new window or tab instead, press ⌘ before you double-click. This forces the folder to open in a new window or tab (depending on whether the box is checked or not).

Tags pane

The Tags pane is where you manage your tags, which appear in the Finder’s File menu, the right- or Control-click shortcut menu, the Sidebar, and the toolbar. You can see a file or folder’s tags in Finder windows, Get Info windows and inspectors, and applications’ Open and Save dialogs and sheets, and you can use them as criteria for searches and Smart Folders.

A sheet is nothing more than a dialog that’s attached to a document window’s title bar and can’t be moved. Some apps use sheets, other apps use dialogs, but either way you’ll see the same options.

  • To rename a Tag, click its name and type a new one.
  • To change a Tag’s color, click the colored circle to the left of its name and choose a different color.
  • Check the boxes for Tags you want to appear in the Sidebar and toolbar.

To see your unchecked Tags in the Sidebar or toolbar, click All Tags in (Sidebar) or Show All (toolbar).

  1. Choose File → Tags and click one or more of the colored dots in the Tags section.
  2. Right- or Control-click and click one or more of the colored dots in the Tags section of the shortcut menu.
  3. Click the Tags button on the toolbar and click one or more of the Tags.

Here are a few more handy tricks with Tags:

  • To create a custom Tag on the fly: Right- or Control-click an item, choose Tags, type a label for the new tag, and then press Return.
  • To untag an item: Right- or Control-click the item, choose Tags, select the tag you want to remove, and then press Delete.
  • To remove every instance of a Tag from every file and folder on your disk: Right- or Control-click the Tag in the Tags pane of Finder Preferences, and then choose Delete Tag. Don’t worry. Deleting a Tag won’t delete the items; it just removes that Tag from every item.

Click the Tags in your Sidebar to see every file on all connected hard disks with that tag.

Sidebar pane

The Sidebar pane lets you choose which items are displayed in the Sidebar. Select the check box to display the item; deselect the check box to not display it.

Advanced pane

The Advanced pane is just big enough to offer the following check boxes and a pop-up menu:

  • Show All Filename Extensions check box: Tells the Finder to display the little two-, three-, four-, or more character filename suffixes (such as .doc in summary.doc) that make your Mac’s file lists look more like those of a Linux (or Windows) user. The Finder hides those from you by default, but if you want to be able to see them in the Finder when you open or save files, you need to turn on this option.
  • Show Warning Before Changing an Extension check box (on by default): Allows you to turn off the nagging dialog that appears if you attempt to change the two-, three-, four-, or more character file extension.
  • Show Warning Before Emptying the Trash check box (on by default): Allows you to turn off the nagging dialog telling you how many items are in the Trash and asking whether you really want to delete them.
  • Remove Items from the Trash After 30 Days check box (off by default): This is new in Sierra and it does exactly what it says: It automatically deletes any item in the Trash for more than 30 days. Think of it as automatic emptying of the Trash for items that have been there 30 days or longer.
  • Keep Folders on Top when Sorting by Name (off by default): Another new Sierra feature, this one sorts folders first, then files in windows sorted by Name.
  • When Performing a Search pop-up menu: Lets you choose the default search location when you initiate a search. Your choices are Search This Mac, Search the Current Folder, and Use the Previous Search Scope.