RAW Computing

Try these hidden features in Finder on the Apple Mac

There are lots of hidden features in OS X on the Apple Mac and they make using the computer just that little bit easier or more enjoyable. Sometimes you can use the computer for months or years before you discover them and you can still be surprised by a hidden feature you didn't know even if you are an experienced user. It is a shame that manuals are no longer provided with a new computer and it's really a matter of going over everything on the screen looking for things and left, right and double clicking on everything you find just to see what happens. Here are a few things you may not know about Finder in OS X.

Open a Finder window and go to a folder that has files with long filenames, such as the Documents folder. Go to the View menu and select as List. If the filenames are too long to fit in the columns, they will be shortened. So "My Great DVD Project.dvdproj" becomes "My Gre...vdproj". Sometimes you can't tell one file from another if they have similar names and they have been shortened.

The solution is to resize the columns and if you let the mouse hover over the separator between two columns, the cursor will change shape - a vertical bar with left and right arrows. Double click the mouse and the column to the left is resized.

If the Name column is to the left of the mouse cursor when you double click the column separator, the column is resized so that the largest item just fits. No more shortened names. Some interesting things happen if you double click the separator between the other columns.

In list view you will probably find that the date stamp for each file is something like "18 September 2012 10:15". Click and drag the separator to the right of the Date Modified column and you'll see the date format change and given enough space you'll see something like Wednesday, 21 April 2010 10:10". As you drag the separator left to reduce the width of the column you'll see that the day name is dropped when there is insufficient space for it, then the month is truncated to three letters, then the date shrinks to "21/04/...0 10:10" then the time is dropped and the date becomes "21/04/2010" and even more information is lost at very small widths.

Instead of clicking and dragging the date column separator, double click it. If you start at the widest so the longest date is displayed, you'll see the date step through the different formats as you double click it and the width jumps to each setting. It's an interesting effect and it can be quite useful.

Now go to the View menu and select as Columns. As before, if the column is not wide enough to display a file or folder name in full because it is too long, it is shortened. There aren't any column headers or separators to click, so how do you resize the columns to see the full names? Look down the right column border and at the bottom is a little icon that looks like two vertical bars. Click and drag it to resize the column or double click it to automatically size it to the width of the widest item in the list.

Affilate links follow...

| About