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Apple Mac OS X tips and tweaks

Date: 1st January 2012     

Top Finder tips for OS X Lion

Everything you do on the Mac is done through Finder and it is used to access files and folders, run applications, clean up the disk, organise documents and photos and much more. Each new version of OS X introduces new features and with Lion, Finder is more powerful and more useful than ever. Here are a few of the new features added to Finder in Lion and some of them are not so obvious, so there may be a few surprises for you.

Copying files from one folder to another is easy and you just select one or more files in a Finder window and press Command+C. Go to another folder or open another Finder window and press Command+V. These are universal copy and paste keyboard shortcuts that are used in countless applications on many types of computers. There is another universal keyboard shortcut, Command+X, that enables you to cut something instead of copying it and then paste it elsewhere using Command+V. However, it doesn't work in Finder. If you want to move a file then select it and press Command+C to copy it, then instead of Command+V, use Command+Option+V. This a cut and paste operation that moves a file.

Lots of files tend to get dumped into a folder and it can become a disorganised mess. Creating folders and putting files in them is a good way to eliminate the clutter and to organise them. Normally, you would first create a folder and then select the files to move into it, but there is a shortcut that turns things on its head. You select the files first, then right click (or Ctrl+click) them and choose New Folder With Selection. The new folder is created and the files are automatically moved into it.

There are more ways to view the contents of folders in Lion and there is a button in the toolbar that enables you to display file lists sorted by kind, application, label and so on.


A major irritation with Finder is when copying folders. If you have only ever used a Mac you might not realise that there is a problem at all though, but for Windows users it can catch you out. The problem occurs when you copy one folder to another folder when there is already a folder of the same name there. For example, suppose you have a folder called Photos on the desktop and you drag it to your Documents folder, but there's already a folder called Photos in there. Windows will automatically merge the two and resolve conflicts where there are two files of the same name. OS X deletes the existing folder and replaces it with the new one. The result is that you lose all the files that were in the folder.

This behaviour has been modified in OS X Lion, although it's still not right and is best avoided. Now if you copy one folder into another folder where there's one with the same name, one of two things can happen. If there are files of the same name in the folder then you just get Stop or Replace options. If the contents of the folders are different though, there is now an option to merge the files into one folder.


There is now some animation as files are dragged and dropped. Select a group of files, click and drag them and as they hover over the destination they rearrange themselves into a more compact list. It's just for fun.