The Finder

Finder Basics

At the heart of OS X is the Finder, Apple's file and computer manager. It boots automatically whenever you start OS X. If no other applications are running, you will see the menu item "Finder" residing next to the Apple icon at the far right, top corner of your screen (left side of the top menu bar). Open Finder's "main" window, you can select "File/New Finder Window" or click once on Finder's icon. (The Finder's icon is a square smiley face with a line running through it that makes up its nose.) In the picture below, it resides at the top of the Dock.

Clicking on it once has opened the window to its left. See below. (Note: Notice that the menu bar at the top of the screen now says "Grab" and not "Finder". In OS X, the active application holds the premiere spot on the menu bar. In this case, Grab was helping me get the screen shots of the Finder window, so it took possession of the menu bar.)

Notice that the window Finder opened looks dim. This is an "inactive" window, meaning that it is currently not selected. This is because Grab is the active application at the moment. To make the "inactive" window active, I only need to click on the window. I can drop objects into an inactive window, but any commands I execute will not affect an inactive window. For instance, say I have a Word document open that I have been typing in, and I go off and do something else, and then just start typing again. My keystrokes will be applied toward the active window. My Word document would be unaffected until I clicked on the document window to make it active again.

Double-clicking on the "Macintosh HD" will open the hard disk and place its contents inside the Finder window like that below.

Let's take a moment to tallk about the window itself. Notice the red, yellow, and green buttons on the window's upper right edge. These are the controls you use to close, minimize, and maximize a window, respectively. Inside the red "close" button will be either an "x" telling you the file has been saved and can be closed without losing data or a little black dot in its center that says it needs to be saved. Clicking on it, in either case, will clsoe the window. Notice I said "close the window". It does not close the application. That must be done from the appplication's own menu or by using the Finder or the Dock. Next, is the yellow minimize button. Inside it you will see a minus sign. Click on that button and the window will collapse onto the Dock where you will see a miniature version of it. To restore the window, click on its miniature in the Dock, and it will spring back to right where you left it. Lastly, there is the green button which will "maximize" your window if you click on it. Fro you Windows users, it does not work the same way Windows does, i.e., maximize does not automatically make it jump to fill all remaining screen real estate. In this world, it will jump to the biggest position you had it at. If you want it larger than, you'll need to click on the window's bottom right-hand corner and drag it to where you want it. Afterwards, when you click on the maxmize button, it will jump back to the largest size you last made it.

The little signs in the buttons, except for the black dot in the close button that tells you to save, disappear except when your mouse cursor approaches.

Delete the "Developer" and "hp Laserjet Folder" folders and you'll have the standard folder setup for a new hard disk under OS X. To open any of the folders and see what is inside them, double-click on the one you want. The folder will open in the same window.

Before you do that, however, notice the tool bar at the top of the window. It holds navigation buttons (Back, Forward) to help you move between the windows you have opened. To their right are buttons that allow you to select the type of folder and file view you'd like in the window. In the window above, the "icon" view is selected. (Icon view is selected by clicking on the leftmost button of the View buttons. In this picture, the selected button is blue.) If you click on the middle (View) button, you'll select "List" view, as shown below:

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