The best Mac Finder preferences you should know

The best Mac Finder preferences you should know

One of the staples of the macOS environment, Finder is a ubiquitous part of any Mac. The Mac version of Windows Explorer, Finder is where you “find” all of your documents, media, folders, files, and more. Its smiling blue / gray icon is always on your Dock or at the top of the screen on your menu bar. Although the Finder looks fairly simple after a few uses, there are probably some preferences that you may not know about. Each of these preferences can take your Finder experience to the next level.

Adjust the default Finder search

If you’ve already opened Finder and used its search function, you probably don’t know that the search is limited to the folder you currently open in Finder. Instead, head to “Finder -> Preferences -> Advanced” and make a few adjustments to find your entire Mac instead.

Best Mac Finder Preferences Default Search

You can choose to search your entire Mac, use a previous search range, or just search for the current folder. It’s a quick adjustment, but incredibly useful when you need to find a file quickly.

Change the default folder

Do you have a favorite folder that you use for work or a favorite folder for downloads? Apple provides a default Finder folder which is your starting point for all of your Finder needs. Fortunately, you are not limited to keeping this folder as the default folder.

Best Default Mac Finder Preferences FolderBest Default Mac Finder Preferences Folder

To make this change, go to “Finder -> Preferences” and click on the “General” tab. You will now see “The new Finder windows appear”, and if you click on it, you can change the default Finder window to any window of your choice.

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Rename multiple files

Another small but incredibly useful Finder preference is the ability to rename multiple files at once.

Best Mac Finder Preferences Rename Multiple FilesBest Mac Finder Preferences Rename Multiple Files

If you want to rename a bunch of files, first select them. Hold the button Order to select all the files you want to rename. The best part of this Finder tip is that the files don’t need to be in order. You can rename two files on one line and five on another. Once each file is selected, right click on your mouse or trackpad and select “Rename X items” with the X for the number of files you have selected. There are now three options to choose from:

  • The drop-down list on the far left allows you to replace text, add text, or format the names of all selected files.
Best Mac Finder Preferences Rename Multiple Files LeftBest Mac Finder Preferences Rename Multiple Files Left
  • In the middle, you can write your own title which can be anything you want.
Best Mac Finder Preferences Rename Multiple Files RightBest Mac Finder Preferences Rename Multiple Files Right
  • The drop-down menu on the far right allows you to add new text before or after the existing file name.
Best Mac Finder Preferences Rename Multiple Files ThirdBest Mac Finder Preferences Rename Multiple Files Third

Customize the toolbar

One of the biggest annoyances when working in the Finder is that you can’t quickly access the function you need to perform an action. This ends today, as you can easily customize the Finder toolbar to put all the shortcuts you need with one click.

Best Mac Finder Preferences Customize ToolbarBest Mac Finder Preferences Customize Toolbar

Hover your mouse anywhere on the toolbar, right-click and select “Customize the toolbar.” A new window will open showing a variety of potential shortcut actions that you can add to the toolbar. These include options like Quick View, Get Info, New Folder, Delete and more. As a bonus, you can also add a favorite folder to the Finder folder. Click and drag a folder to the top toolbar for quick access.

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Merge open Finder windows

We all appreciated having too many Finder windows open. The more windows there are open on a Mac, especially on a smaller screen, this can be a real headache.

Best Finder Mac Preferences Merge All WindowsBest Finder Mac Preferences Merge All Windows

To avoid cluttering windows, click on “Window -> Merge all windows” and combine all open Finder windows. Otherwise, avoid opening multiple Finder windows by pressing Order + T in a Finder window open for a new tab. You can open multiple tabs to find what you are looking for.

Quick view in full screen

Another of these handy tips that you may never have known is to see Quick Look in full screen. It can be incredibly practical. When searching across multiple files, videos, photos, or documents, Quick Look is a quick and easy way to preview a file. Instead of opening a default application like Word, PowerPoint, Pages or Photos, Quick Look lets you see almost all types of files at a glance.

Best Mac Finder Preferences KeyboardBest Mac Finder Preferences Keyboard

What if you want to see Quick Look in full screen? Just press the button Option along with the space bar to activate Quick Look. You can also Option press down if you placed the Quick View icon in the Finder toolbar.

Now that you’ve mastered your Finder, you should consider customizing the icons for files, folders, and hard drives in the Finder, or discover hidden customization options in macOS. Taking a few extra minutes to learn these customization tips can go a long way in your daily macOS experience.


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