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The Finder Icon
The Finder Icon

Finder is the application used in Mac OS X (and classic Mac OS) to navigate and manage the file system. Under normal circumstances, it is always open.

To use the Finder, click on its icon in the Dock or click on the Desktop. If you click on the desktop, however, Finder windows will remain behind other application windows, so it's usually preferable to click on the Finder icon.



The Finder has always been present in the Mac OS. In the Classic Mac OS, which could only run one program at a time, the Finder would close each time a program ran. This changed in System 7. (However, the optional MultiFinder in System 6 allowed for multiple programs). The Finder was completely rewritten for OS X.

The Finder and the OS version are not linked. In Mac OS version 10.4.2, the Finder version is 10.4.1. The Finder can also be at a version higher than the OS, such as in System 2 where the Finder was at version 4.


  • Browse the file system.
  • Open, change, and delete files.
  • Launch Applications.
  • Search the file system (In Tiger this is augmented with Spotlight)
  • Smart Folders to save a Finder Spotlight search
  • Mount servers and external disk drives.
  • Create Burn Folders for burning to a CD or DVD.


  • Select some text in any application. Now click on the text and hold for a couple seconds. Then drag it to the Finder. This creates a Text Clipping, a unique file that opens in the Finder. The Text Clipping can be dragged to any other application to paste that text into that application.
  • Drag a file onto a folder, but do not let go just yet. The folder will spring open. Now drag the file to a folder within the first folder, and that folder will spring open. Release the mouse button and the file will be moved to that folder (or copied if the destination folder is on a different volume). This is spring loaded folders in action.
  • You can drag any folder to the sidebar. But, you can also drag most applications to the sidebar as well, as long as the application is really a bundle.
  • Holding down the command key, drag any application, folder or document to the toolbar of the finder window.
  • Switch between simple and advanced finder windows by clicking the button in the far right of the window (sometimes called "the tic-tac")
  • Enable extra information to be displayed below the icon, such as image size, or volume free space. View->Show View Options, and enable "Show Item Info"
  • It is possible to look at any .Mac user's iDisk or their iDisk's public folder by going to Go>iDisk>Other User's iDisk (you will need the username and password) or Go>iDisk>Other User's Public Folder (you will need at least their username, and possibly the password if they have one turned on).