Finder first saw the light of day alongside the original Macintosh File System, as part of Mac OS System 1, in January 1984. Nearly 30 years later, Finder has changed radically to its current iteration as part of OS X 10.9 Mavericks. With the release of Mavericks Apple introduced several big new features to Finder, including tabs in Finder windows and a universal system for tagging files.
In this tutorial, I'll will look at Finder, in Mavericks, and show you how to improve the way you organise your files.
Finder 10.9: The New Stuff
Finder is one of the headline changes, in OS X, on Mavericks. It introduces two key new functions of the app: tabs and tags.
Finder Tabs introduces the ability to have multiple Finder windows collated into one, tabbed interface, much like browsing multiple webpages in Safari. Each tab is independent from the others and is simply aimed at removing clutter or working in full screen with each tab being able to have its view.
Tags is a brand new feature which allows you to tag document metadata to allow for easier searching and organisation. You can create custom tags and then apply them to files in Finder, an iCloud file browser or right from within a document when you save it.
Declutter Your Desktop With Finder Tabs
Finder Tabs is a great way of decluttering your desktop when you need to have multiple folders open or, for example, want to browser a folder while using AirDrop. Alternatively, you might need to have the same folder open but want to use different views to browse it. Finder Tabs streamlines this all down into one window that you can use on your desktop or as a single full-screen window.
To open a new tab in Finder, simply click File > New Tab. Alternatively, you can use the same keyboard shortcut you use for opening new tabs in Safari -- Command T -- to quickly open a new tab. Your open tabs are shown directly under the Finder toolbar and you can switch to a different one by clicking on it or using Ctrl + Tab to quickly scroll between them.
With multiple tabs open, you can easily move files about by dragging-and-dropping them from the Finder view onto a non-active tab, the same as if you were moving them between folders.
By default, Finder will open new windows and tabs in the All My Files view. You can change this to a different folder by clicking through Finder > Preferences in the menu bar and selecting the General tab. Then, use the drop-down menu under New Finder windows show to select the desired default folder.
If, however, you already know what folder you want to open in the new tab and have it selected, simply secondary-click and select Open in New Tab to create a new tab with the chosen folder.
You can also easily merge multiple active Finder windows into a single, tabbed window by clicking Window > Merge All Windows in the menu bar. On the other hand, you can easily create a new window with the open tab by instead clicking Window > Move Tab to New Window.
When you go full-screen with Finder, your tabs come with you. If you have limited screen space, Finder tabs removes the need for having multiple Finder windows take up space when only one is needed and the full-screen mode allows you to really maximise the available space you have to work with.
Organise Your Files With Tags
Another new Finder-related feature, in Mavericks, is the introduction of the new Tags system. Tags is a great way of organising and searching for files outside of the basic folder system. Tags makes it really easy to keep files organised between formats and apps or allow you to associate single files with multiple projects when previously you could only ever keep them in a single folder.
Tags work by attaching new metadata to a file that you can later search for. Regardless of what format the file is in or where it's located, it'll show up alongside other files with the same tag.
Adding Tags in Finder
You can add a tag to any file by locating it in Finder and then clicking on the new Edit Tags button in the toolbar. Then click to add an existing tag or type out the name of a new one. If there's multiple files in the same Finder window or tab that you wish to tag the same, you can select them all before hitting the Edit Tags button to quickly apply the same changes.
Adding Tags to iCloud Documents
If your file is stored in iCloud -- for example, a Pages document -- you can also add tags through the iCloud file browser. To do so, open the app and select the Edit Tags button from the lower toolbar of the file browser. Then, attach tags in the same way you would in Finder: either by selecting existing tags or typing out the names of new ones. Again, you can select multiple files to attach the same tags to at once.
Attaching Tags Within Documents
You can also add tags directly to a document from within the app it was created in when supported. In an app like Pages or Preview, click on the document title at the top of the app and the enter your desired tags in the Tags field. Whether the document is stored in iCloud or locally, you can apply the same tags used universally around your Mac.
Alternatively, if the document is new, you can wait and attach tags in same dialog through File > Save.
Searching with Tags
Of course, tags aren't added just for the sake of them being there. When you used tags throughout your Mac, they provide a powerful new way of searching for files and collecting related ones together.
In Finder, tags are listed in the sidebar and you can click any one to view a list of all files with that tag. You can customise which tags show in your sidebar, as well as which colour is associated with the tag, by clicking Finder > Preferences in the menu bar and selecting the Tags tab.
When tags aren't shown in the sidebar, you can use Finder's search functionality to search for a name of tag and select it in the drop-down results. By using search, you can also create a search criteria to look for only files with multiple tags associated by searching for the name of another tag after the first has already been added.
In this tutorial, I've shown you how to use Finder's new features in Mavericks to improve your file organisation and reduce the clutter of multiple open windows. These new OS X 10.9 are a great addition for power users but, however few files you work with, are sure to be an easy way to better organise yourself and your Mac.
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