Originally posted on my my website (with way smaller video-files).
TL;DR This is only the beginning. I prepared a whole bunch of useful macOS thingies and will publish them in the near future. Follow me to stay updated.
A week ago or two I helped a friend setting up his new Mac and get a web-development environment up and running. During this tedious process he noticed how fast I was able to manage some simple everyday scenarios within macOS. Of course I wanted to share everything with him which became quite overwhelming very quickly. You simply can’t remember more than three shortcuts at once without repeatedly using them by your own. At least I can’t. That’s why I decided to start this little series to collect some useful little bits, share them with the world, and maybe learn some new ones in the comments below. To keep things simple my first post will only cover the Finder which is the default file manager of macOS since its beginning. But there is a lot more in the making so follow me on Twitter if you think you could get more work done in less time. ⚡️
Apple has been incredibly inconsistent with its keyboard layout in the last decade especially when it comes to naming and iconography of some special keys. So to clear things up:
1. Resize columns automatically
Have you ever switched to columns-view in Finder ⌘+3 and your columns were either totally huge or way to small? There is a simple fix: Just double-click the separator line to the right and the column will set its size to the largest item in the list.
2. Fullscreen QuickLook & Index Sheet
One thing I miss hardly when playing around with Windows is getting a quick overview of a files content without having to open it. In my opinion that’s one of Finders core strengths. Simply invoke QuickLook for the currently selected item by pressing Space and even navigate around with your Arrow Keys. A nice addition is its distraction-free fullscreen mode which only requires you to hold ⌥ while pressing Space.
In either mode you can:
- Press and hold ⌥ to temporarily zoom to around 150%.
- Click the little grid-icon to open a so called Index Sheet where you see all your items at once. I often use this to quickly compare two versions of an image.
3. QuickLook Extensions
QuickLook is nice but it has some limitations when it comes to some more advanced file-types like Markdown, WebP, JSON or even CSV. By executing the following command in your Terminal all of this becomes a part of the past.
brew cask install qlcolorcode qlstephen qlmarkdown quicklook-json qlprettypatch quicklook-csv betterzipql qlimagesize webpquicklook suspicious-package quicklookase qlvideo
For more information see this GitHub page.
4. Quickly show Dock items in the Finder
This is a short one. You can’t decide between stack-, grid-, or list-mode of the folders (most likely Downloads) in your Dock or like none of these like I do? Simply ⌘+Click on them to instantly show them in the Finder. This works with applications too.
5. Keep folders on top when sorting by name
Since macOS Sierra 10.12 you can go to Finders settings and tick the very last checkbox in the very last tab named Keep folders on top when sorting by name. Simple but a massive time-saver which should be enabled by default.
6. Go to Folder
This little text-field you invoke by pressing ⌘+⇧+G (or manually in the menu bar) seems rather boring but it features the same ⇥ auto-completion as your Terminal which comes in handy. By the way: In macOS you can simply abbreviate your home directory (e.g.
/Users/wottpal/) with a tilde
Finder has tabs for a long time which is nice if you don’t want your desktop to be cluttered with dozens of windows. But there are some things to keep in mind if you want to effectively work with them. Since macOS Sierra you can enable Open folders in tabs instead of new windows in your Finders settings which I highly recommend. And if you spread your apps between multiple Desktops but only want one instance of Finder running on all of them make sure to right click on Finders icon and check Assign to all Desktops. This can be done with every application in your Dock.
If you actually work in Finder and want to open a directory in a new tab there are multiple ways to do that:
- Just open a new tab with ⌘+T at your default Finder location which can be set up in the settings as well.
- ⌘+Double-click on any folder or ⌘+Click on a sidebar item.
- Right click and chose Open in New Tab
- Drag the folder onto the plus-icon in the tab bar in the upper right. If you can’t see the tab bar permanently enable it with ⌘+⇧+T.
Other useful shortcuts to handle tabs are (almost) identical with Safari: Close the current tab with ⌘+W. Navigate between them with ⌃+⇥ and ⇧+⌃+⇥. But one of my most favorite actions in Safari Close Other Tabs doesn’t work and is mapped to Close All Tabs: ⌘+⌥+W. What a sad inconsistency. I already contacted Apple about that a year ago but they didn’t respond. 😢
8. Batch Rename
A rather less-known but very powerful feature is renaming a bunch of files at once. While renaming a single file can be initiated simply by pressing the return key ↩︎ for multiple files it’s necessary to use a right click. Here you can find a more detailed guide.
9. Get the absolute path
Sometimes it can be useful to know the exact path where a file is located. By pressing ⌥+⌘+P you can toggle Finders handy path bar where all parent directories are listed like breadcrumbs. You can even interact with them via drag and drop or ⌘+Double-click to open a new tab.
But what if you only want the path copied as plain text? Just do a right click on the element and hold ⌥. Now you can select Copy “…” as Pathname. Et voilà.
10. Create a new folder with all selected files
This is one of my favorite time-savers: Select a bunch of files which you want to move to a new directory and press ⌘+⌃+N. A new folder is created for you with all of the files already inside.
11. Always open file with…
You all probably know if you want to open a file with any other app than its default you can do this with a right click and Open with ▸. But by holding ⌥ this option in the menu becomes Always open with ▸.
That’s it for now. I’ve already collected at least this amount of Finder tips one more time. 💌
Follow me if you don’t want to miss them.
Originally posted on my my website (with smaller video-files #perfmatters).