Share files, folders, and other services

You can set up your Mac to share files, folders, and other services with users on your network. You can also share your screen, or share a printer connected to your Mac.

Use the information on this page to help you choose which services to share, and whom to share with.

DVD or CD sharing

If you install the DVD or CD Sharing Setup software, users of other computers should be able to access your DVD or CD drive. This can be helpful if the other computer doesn’t have an optical drive, or if you want to provide access to your optical drive to other computers on your Ethernet or wireless network.

Share your optical drive with another computer

You can share discs in your computer’s DVD drive with other computers on your network.

  • Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Sharing), then select the DVD or CD Sharing checkbox.

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  • To be notified when a computer tries to access your optical drive, select “Ask me before allowing others to use my DVD drive.”

Screen sharing

You can let others see what’s on your screen; open, move, and close files and windows; open apps; and even restart your Mac.

Screen Sharing pref pane

You can let others view your computer screen on their own Mac. While your screen is being shared, the user of the other Mac sees what’s on your screen and can open, move, and close files and windows, open apps, and even restart your Mac.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select the Screen Sharing checkbox.

    If Remote Management is selected, you must deselect it before you can select Screen Sharing.

  3. To specify who can share your screen, select one of the following:

    • All users: Anyone with a user account on your Mac can share your screen.

    • Only these users: Screen sharing is restricted to specific users.

  4. If you selected “Only these users,” click Add  at the bottom of the users list, then do one of the following:

    • Select a user from Users & Groups, which includes all the users of your Mac.

    • Select a user from Network Users or Network Groups, which includes everyone on your network.

  5. To let others share your screen without having a user account on your Mac, click Computer Settings, then select one or both of the following:

    • Anyone may request permission to control screen: Before other computer users begin screen sharing your Mac, they can ask for permission instead of entering a user name and password.

    • VNC viewers may control screen with password: Other users can share your screen using a VNC viewer app—on iPad or a Windows PC, for example—by entering the password you specify here.

    If this computer’s screen is shared only by other OS X users, turn off these options and add accounts for the other users.

File sharing

You can share files with other Mac computers:

Share your Mac with everyone, or restrict the sharing service to allow specific users access to only certain folders.

File Sharing pref pane

You can share files and folders with others on your network. You can share your entire Mac with everyone, or allow specific users access to only certain folders.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select the File Sharing checkbox.

  3. To select a specific folder to share, click Add  at the bottom of the Shared Folders list, locate the folder, select it, then click Add.

    The Public folder of each user with an account on your Mac is shared automatically. To prevent a folder from being shared, select it in the Shared Folders list and click Delete .

  4. By default, any user set up on your Mac in Users & Groups preferences can connect to your Mac over the network. A user with an administrator account can access your entire Mac.

    To give only specific users access to a folder, select the folder in the Shared Folders list, then click Add  at the bottom of the Users list. Then do one of the following:

    • Select a user from Users & Groups, which includes all the users of your Mac.

    • Select a user from Network Users or Network Groups, which includes everyone on your network.

    • Select a person from your contacts. Create a password for the person, then click Create Account.

  5. To specify the amount of access for a user, select the user in the Users list, click the triangles next to the user name, then choose one of the following:

    • Read & Write: The user can see and copy files to and from the folder.

    • Read Only: The user can view the contents of the folder but can’t copy files to it.

    • Write Only (Drop Box): The user can copy files to the folder but can’t view its contents.

    • No Access: The user can’t see or copy files from the folder.

  6. OS X allows guests to access shared folders on your Mac. To turn off guest access, deselect “Allow guests to connect to shared folders” in the Guest Account pane of User & Groups preferences.

Open Users & Groups preferences for me

Printer sharing

If you have a printer connected to your Mac, you can let others on your network use it.

Printer Sharing prefs

You can share your printer with another Mac or with a UNIX computer. The computers must be on the same local network as your Mac, and the Mac users must have Mac OS X v10.4 or later.

Printer sharing is for non-network or non-wireless printers that typically are plugged in directly to your computer. You don’t need to share network, wireless, or AirPrint compatible printers because they are already shared on your network.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences and click Sharing), then select the Printer Sharing checkbox.

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Below Printers, select the printer you want to share.

    When you share a printer, all users on your network (“Everyone”) can use it by default. If you want to restrict access to specific people, continue with steps 3 and 4.

  3. Click Add  at the bottom of the Users list, then do any of the following:

    • Select a user from Users & Groups, which includes all the users of your Mac.

    • Select a user from Network Users or Network Groups, which includes everyone on your network.

    • Select a person from your contacts. Create a password for the person, then click Create Account.

  4. When you add people to the Users list, access to the shared printer is reset to No Access for users on your network (“Everyone”). To provide access to Everyone again, click the triangles, then choose Can Print.

To remove a user, select the name, then click Remove . You can’t remove Everyone.

Remote login

If you allow remote login, you can use Secure Shell (SSH) to log in to your Mac from another location.

Remote login pref pane

If you allow remote login, you can use Secure Shell (SSH) to log in to your Mac from another computer.

You can’t use Telnet to log in to your Mac.

Set up Remote Login

  1. On your Mac, open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select Remote Login.

    Selecting Remote Login also enables the secure FTP (sftp) service.

  3. Specify which users can log in:

    • All users: Any of your computer’s users and anyone on your network can log in.

    • Only these users: Click Add , then choose who can log in remotely. Users & Groups include all the users of your Mac; Network Users and Network Groups include people on your network.

Log in from another computer

To log in from another computer, open Terminal (or another SSH app) on that computer, then type:

ssh username@IP address

For example, if your user name is steve, and your computer’s IP address is 10.1.2.3, open Terminal on the other Mac and type:

ssh steve@10.1.2.3

Don’t know your user name and the IP address for your Mac? It’s easy to find them. Open the Remote Login pane of Sharing preferences; your user name and IP address are shown below the “Remote Login: On” indicator.

Open the Remote Login pane of Sharing preferences for me

Allowing remote login to your Mac can make it less secure. For more information about keeping your Mac secure, see Protect your Mac.

For more information about using the ssh command, type “man ssh” at a Terminal shell prompt.

man page for ssh

Remote Management

If your Mac is remotely managed using Apple Remote Desktop, turn on remote management in Sharing preferences.

Remote Management pref pane

If you are sharing your screen and Mac using Remote Desktop, use Remote Management instead of Screen Sharing in Sharing preferences.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing), then select the Remote Management checkbox.

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Select “All users” to let all users on your network connect to your Mac using Apple Remote Desktop.

    • Select “Only these users,” click Add , then select the users who can share your Mac using Apple Remote Desktop.

  3. Click Options, then select the tasks remote users are permitted to perform.

  4. Click Computer Settings, then select options for your Mac. If people connect using a VNC viewer, you need to set a password.

Apple Remote Desktop is available from the App Store. For help setting up and using Apple Remote Desktop, see Remote Desktop Help.

Open App Store for me

Remote Desktop Help

Remote Apple events

Set your Mac to respond to events sent from other computers on a network.

Remote Apple Events pref pane

Your Mac can accept Apple events from apps running on other computers. An Apple event is a task being performed on a Mac, such as “open this document” or “print.”

With remote Apple events turned on, an AppleScript program running on another Mac can interact with your Mac. For example, the program could open and print a document that’s located on your Mac.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select the Remote Apple Events checkbox.

  3. Specify who can send events:

    • All users: Any of your computer’s users and anyone on your network can send events.

    • Only these users: Click Add , then choose who can send events. Users & Groups include all the users of your computer; Network Users and Network Groups include people on your network.

For more information about AppleScript, see the AppleScript website.

Internet sharing

Share your Internet connection with other computers on your local network.

Internet Sharing pref pane

You can share your Internet connection with other users on your local network.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select the Internet Sharing checkbox.

  3. Click the “Share your connection from” pop-up menu, then choose the Internet connection you want to share. For example, if you’re connected to the Internet over Ethernet, choose Ethernet.

  4. Select how you want to share your Internet connection in the “To computers using” list. For example, if you want to share your Internet connection over Wi-Fi, select Wi-Fi.

    If you share your Internet connection using Wi-Fi, deselect the Internet Sharing checkbox, click Wi-Fi Options, give your network a name and password, then select the Internet Sharing checkbox again.

If your Internet connection and your local network use the same port (Ethernet, for example), investigate possible side effects before you turn on Internet sharing. In some cases, sharing your Internet connection disrupts the network. If you use a cable modem, for example, you might unintentionally affect the network settings of other ISP customers, and your ISP might terminate your service.

Bluetooth sharing

If your Mac is Bluetooth enabled or you have a Bluetooth USB adapter connected to your Mac, you can share files with other Bluetooth enabled computers and devices.

Bluetooth Sharing pref pane
  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select the Bluetooth Sharing checkbox and set the following options:

    • When receiving items: Choose Accept and Save to save all items sent to your Mac; choose Accept and Open to open the items; or choose “Ask what to do” to decide what to do each time a file is sent. If you don’t want to accept any items sent to your Mac, choose Never Allow.

    • Folder for accepted items: Choose the folder in which you want to store accepted files. The default folder is the Downloads folder. Choose Other to select a different folder.

    • When other devices browse: Choose Always Allow to let devices browse your Mac, or choose Ask What to Do to manually decide what to do each time a device tries to browse your Mac. If you don’t want other devices to browse your Mac, choose Never Allow.

    • Folders others can browse: Choose the folder on your Mac that other devices can browse. The default folder is the Public folder. Choose Other to select a different folder.

To set options for what happens when others try to send you files or browse your Mac using Bluetooth, open Bluetooth File Exchange, then choose Help > Bluetooth Help.

Open Bluetooth File Exchange for me

Share the contents of the Clipboard with another Mac

Transfer information between the Clipboards of the two computers

When you’re sharing one computer’s screen with another computer, you can transfer information between the Clipboards of the two computers. For example, you can:

  • Copy text and images from documents on one Mac and paste them into documents on the other.

  • Select and drag text and images from one Mac to the other.

  • Copy a link from your web browser and paste it into a web browser on the other Mac.

  • Copy text from a document on one Mac and drop it on the desktop of the other Mac to create a clipping.

  1. Start a screen sharing session with a Mac on your network. See Share the screen of another Mac.

  2. Choose Edit  > Use Shared Clipboard.

 

Spotlight Tips

Search with Spotlight

Spotlight helps you quickly find anything on your Mac, including documents, emails, apps, songs, contacts, and more. It also provides Spotlight Suggestions from sources like Wikipedia, Bing, Maps, news, and iTunes so you can get more information right in Spotlight. Search results have rich, interactive previews so you can play song previews, get directions, send email, make phone calls, and more from results.

Note:   Spotlight Suggestions may not be available in all regions.
Spotlight menu showing search example
  1. Click the Spotlight icon  in the menu bar, or Press Command (⌘)-Space bar.

  2. Enter your search. Results appear as you type; you don’t need to press Return.

    Here are some of the items you can search for:

    • Items on your Mac, such as documents, emails, apps, songs, movies, contacts, events, and reminders.

    • Items in the iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or App Store, such as songs, albums, movies, TV shows, books, and apps.

    • Locations near you, such as stores, restaurants, parks, and landmarks.

    • Wikipedia entries for people, places, and more.

    • Movies playing in theaters near you.

    • News for current events.

    Note:   If you turn off Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches, Spotlight searches only for items on your Mac.
  3. Click a search result to preview it in Spotlight. You can also use the arrow keys to scroll through the results.

    • Perform actions in result previews: Click items or links in the previews.

      For example, to preview a song from an album on iTunes, click the Play button next to the song. Or, to get tickets for a movie playing near you, click the movie times.

    • Open a result: Double-click the result, or select it, then press Return.

    • See all results from your Mac in the Finder: Scroll down to the bottom of the results list, then double-click Show all in Finder.

With Spotlight, you can also get unit and currency conversions, quickly open apps, and get calculations and definitions.

  • Get currency and unit conversions: Convert dollars to euros, feet to meters, pounds to kilograms, even hectares to acres. Enter the units or currency you want to convert, such as 100 dollars. The top result shows the conversions.

  • Open an app: Enter the app’s name in Spotlight, then press Return.

    Spotlight learns from your searches, so if you enter “s” and open Safari, the next time you enter “s,” Safari is the top result.

  • Get a calculation: Enter a mathematical expression in Spotlight, such as 956*23.94.

  • Get a definition: Enter a word or phrase, then click the result below Definition.

Note:   If you deselected categories in the Search Results pane of Spotlight preferences, you won’t see those results from those categories in Spotlight. If you used the Privacy pane of Spotlight preferences to exclude any folders or disks from searches, Spotlight results won’t include items in those folders and disks. For more information.

Spotlight keyboard shortcuts

Quickly search with Spotlight using keyboard shortcuts.

Open Spotlight to start a search

Command (⌘)-Space bar

Complete the search using the suggested result

Right Arrow

Move to the next search result

Down Arrow

Move to the previous search result

Up Arrow

Move to the first search result in the next category

Command (⌘)-Down Arrow

Move to the first search result in the previous category

Command (⌘)-Up Arrow

Show the path of a search result on your Mac

Command (⌘)

Open the selected result

Return key

See a file or app in the Finder

Command (⌘)-R or Command (⌘)-Double-click

Open a Finder window with the search field selected

Option-Command (⌘)-Space bar

To choose different shortcuts, open Spotlight preferences—choose Apple menu > System preferences, click Spotlight, then choose shortcuts from the pop-up menus at the bottom of the pane. You can also click the pop-up menus, then press the keys you want to use.

If you use multiple input sources and have designated Command (⌘)-Space bar and Option-Command (⌘)-Space bar as shortcuts for switching between input sources, you should change the Spotlight shortcuts.

Find specific types of items when searching

If you’re looking for a specific type of item on your Mac, such as an email or image, you can specify it when performing a search. To specify the type, add the text “kind:[type of item]” at the end of your search. For example, to search for your images of New York City, enter “New York City kind:images.” To search for your email messages that mention Anne Johnson, enter “Anne Johnson kind:email.”

You can use these keywords in Spotlight, Finder, and Open dialog search fields.

Type of item
Keyword

Apps

kind:application

kind:applications

kind:app

Contacts

kind:contact

kind:contacts

Folders

kind:folder

kind:folders

Email

kind:email

kind:emails

kind:mail message

kind:mail messages

Calendar events

kind:event

kind:events

Reminders

kind:reminder

kind:reminders

Images

kind:image

kind:images

Movies

kind:movie

kind:movies

Music

kind:music

Audio

kind:audio

PDF

kind:pdf

kind:pdfs

Preferences

kind:system preferences

kind:preferences

Bookmarks

kind:bookmark

kind:bookmarks

Fonts

kind:font

kind:fonts

Presentations

kind:presentation

kind:presentations

Narrow down search results

When searching in Spotlight or the Finder, you can add criteria to a basic search, perform Boolean queries, and search items’ metadata.

Add criteria to a search

You can focus a search by adding criteria to a basic search. For example, you can search for particular kinds of files, or for items created on a particular date.

  1. Click the Spotlight icon  in the menu bar, then enter your search.

  2. Double-click Show All in Finder at the bottom of the search results list to open a Finder search window.

  3. Click Add  on the right side of the search window, below the search field.

  4. Click the far-left pop-up menu, then choose your search criteria.

    For example, to search only a certain type of item instead of all items, choose Kind. Or to search for any item whose name contains a particular word or phrase, choose Name.

  5. To add more choices to the far-left pop-up menu, choose Other, then select each attribute you want to add.

    For example, to search copyright information, select Copyright in the list of attributes, then click OK.

  6. Add or remove search criteria as needed by clicking Add  or Remove .

To appear in the search results, an item must match all your criteria. For example, if one criterion specifies searching for items whose name begins with S and you add a criterion to search for items created today, the search results include only items created today whose names begin with S.

Perform a Boolean query

A Boolean query uses AND, OR, and NOT (known as Boolean operators) to narrow search results. You can also use a minus sign (–), which means AND NOT, to exclude items when you search.

Here are examples of what you might type in the search field when you use Boolean operators:

  • author:tom OR author:thom searches for items authored by Tom or Thom, if you don’t know the exact spelling of his name.

  • trip -france searches for items that contain the word “trip” but not “france,” so results might include photos from a trip to Spain but not to France.

  • kind:message date:6/29/14-7/25/14 NOT date:7/14/14 searches for email messages dated from 6/29/14 through 7/25/14, but excludes those dated 7/14/14.

Search for metadata attributes

Most items contain metadata that describes the item contents, how it was created, and other attributes. For example, when you take a digital photo, information such as the camera model, the aperture, and the focal length are among the many attributes automatically stored in the file as metadata. To view metadata for a file, select the file, then choose File > Get Info.

Here are examples of how you might use metadata attributes in your search:

  • trip kind:document searches for the word “trip” in documents only.

  • author:tom searches for all items written by Tom.

  • meeting date:tomorrow searches for meetings you have planned for tomorrow.

  • kind:images created:5/16/14 searches for images created on a specific date.

  • kind:music by:“glenn miller” searches for music by Glenn Miller.

  • modified:<=6/29/14 searches for items modified on or before a specific date.

You can also search for specific types of items, such as apps, contacts, or bookmarks.

Spotlight preferences

In Spotlight preferences, choose the categories that appear in Spotlight search results. If you want, you can also keep Spotlight from searching specific folders or disks.

To open Spotlight preferences, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Spotlight.

Open Spotlight preferences for me

Search Results pane

Choose which categories appear in Spotlight search results: Select the categories you want to include, deselect those you don’t.

By default, Spotlight results include Spotlight Suggestions, Bing Web Searches, conversions, documents, folders, music, and more.

If you don’t want your Spotlight search queries and Spotlight Suggestions usage data sent to Apple, you can turn off Spotlight Suggestions by deselecting the Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches checkboxes. You can also turn off Location Services for Spotlight Suggestions in Security & Privacy preferences. If you turn off Location Services on your Mac, your precise location will not be sent to Apple. For detailed instructions and information, see About Spotlight Suggestions.

Change the order of results: Drag the categories until they’re in the order you want.

Privacy pane

Keep Spotlight from searching locations: Click Add , then locate the folder or disk you want to exclude. You can also drag folders or disks into the list.

Remove a folder or disk from the exclusion list: Select the folder or disk, then click Remove .

If you add a Time Machine backup disk to the privacy list, you will continue to see messages that Spotlight is indexing your backup disk. This indexing is necessary for Time Machine to function properly and can’t be disabled. Spotlight does exclude from searches any items you store on your backup disk that are not part of a Time Machine backup.

Important:   If you add certain files and folders to the privacy list you may not be notified when updates become available for some apps. If you add your entire internal disk to the privacy list, you won’t be notified about any updates.

Show Spotlight search and Show Finder search window shortcuts

Show Spotlight search: Click the pop-up menu, then choose the keyboard shortcut you want to use to open Spotlight.

Show Finder search window: Click the pop-up menu, then choose the keyboard shortcut you want to use to open a Finder search window.

When you use the shortcut, a Finder window opens with the search field selected.

If a yellow alert triangle appears next to the shortcut you select, then the shortcut is already being used. Click the triangle to open Keyboard Shortcuts preferences and view all the keyboard shortcuts set on your Mac.

 

 

Finder Tips

finderRepresented by the blue icon with the smiling face, the Finder is the home base for your Mac. You use it to organize and access almost everything on your Mac, including documents, images, movies, and any other files you have.

To open a Finder window, click the Finder icon in the Dock. To go to the Finder without opening a window, click the desktop.

Finder preferences

Use Finder preferences to set options for Finder windows, file extensions, and the Trash.

To view Finder preferences, click the Finder icon in the Dock, then choose Finder > Preferences.

Finder icon in Dock

General

Show these items on the desktop

Select any items you want to see on the desktop.

New Finder windows show

Choose which folder is displayed when you open a new Finder window.

Open folders in tabs instead of new windows

Select what happens when you hold down the Command (⌘) key and double-click a folder.

  • When selected: Folders open in tabs.

  • When deselected: Folders open in windows.

Spring-loaded folders and windows

Select to have folders open when you drag items over them.

Use the slider to specify how long an item has to be over a folder before the folder opens.

Tags

Show these tags in the sidebar

Customize the tags you see in the Finder sidebar.

  • See a tag in the sidebar: Select the checkbox to the right of the tag.

  • Change a tag color: Click the color next to the tag , then choose a new color.

  • Change a tag name: Click the tag, click the tag’s name, then enter a new name.

  • Create a new tag: Click Add .

  • Delete a tag: Select the tag, then click Remove .

Favorite Tags

Customize the tags you see in the shortcut menu that appears when you Control-click a file.

  • Add a tag: Select it in the list above the Favorite Tags section, then drag it over the tag you want to replace. You can have up to seven tags in the shortcut menu.

  • Remove a tag: Drag it out of the Favorite Tags section until you see a puff of smoke.

For more information about tags, see Use tags to organize files.

Sidebar

Show these items in the sidebar

Select the items you want to see in the Finder sidebar.

These items also appear in Open and Save dialogs.

Advanced

Show all filename extensions

A filename extension—the period followed by a few letters or words that you see at the end of some filenames (for example, .jpg)—identifies the type of file. This option affects most, but not all, filenames. You can show or hide extensions for individual files in their Info windows.

Show warning before changing an extension

Display a warning if you accidentally try to change an extension. As a rule, you shouldn’t change filename extensions.

Show warning before emptying the Trash

Display a warning so you don’t accidentally delete items in the Trash.

Empty Trash securely

Make sure that items you delete when you empty the Trash can’t easily be recovered using data recovery tools. When this option is selected, the deleted files are overwritten with meaningless data.

When performing a search

Choose what you want to search by default when you use the search field in Finder windows. You can search your entire Mac, the folder that’s currently open, or the scope you specified the last time you searched in a Finder window.

For even more ways to customize Finder windows, see Customize the Finder toolbar and sidebar.

Rename files, folders, and disks

You can change the name of most files, folders, and disks, including the internal hard disk (named Macintosh HD by default). If you change the name of your hard disk, it still appears with its original name on a network.

Rename one item

  1. Select the item you want to rename, then press Return.

  2. Enter a new name.

    You can use numbers and most symbols. You can’t include a colon (:) or start the name with a period (.). Some apps may not allow you to use a slash (/) in a filename.

  3. Press Return.

Rename multiple items

  1. Select the items, then Control-click one of them.

  2. In the shortcut menu, select Rename Items.

  3. In the pop-up menu below Rename Folder Items, choose to replace text in the names, add text to the names, or change the name format.

    • Replace text: Enter the text you want to remove in the Find field, then enter the text you want to add in the “Replace with” field.

    • Add text: Enter the text to you want to add in the field, then choose to add the text before or after the current name.

    • Format: Choose a name format for the files, then choose to put the index, counter, or date before or after the name. Enter a name in the Custom Format field, then enter the number you want to start with.

  4. Click Rename.

These are some items you should not rename:

  • App folders and any items that came with your system, such as the Library folder. (If you change the name of an item and experience problems, change the name back. If this doesn’t help, you may need to reinstall the software.)

  • Filename extensions—the period followed by a few letters or words that you see at the end of some filenames (for example, .jpg). If you change an extension, you may no longer be able to open the file with the app that was used to create it.

  • Your home folder—the one with your name on it.

Ways to view items in Finder windows

There are four ways to view items in a Finder window: as icons, as a list, in columns, or in Cover Flow. To choose a view, use the View buttons at the top of the Finder window:

View Buttons

In the four views, there are additional ways to customize how your items are displayed.

Sort items, arrange icons, and resize columns

Your sort and icon arrangement settings for a folder apply until you change them. For example, if you sort your Documents folder by Date Added, the next time you view your Documents folder, it’s sorted by Date Added.

Sort items: In any view, click the Item Arrangement button , then choose an option, such as Date Created or Size.

Arrange icons neatly: In Icon view, choose View > Clean Up.

Resize columns: In List view, Column view, and Cover Flow, drag the line that’s between the column headings.

To expand a column to show all filenames in their entirety, double-click the column divider.

Further customize Icon, List, Column, or Cover Flow view

You can customize each view to accommodate your preferences. For example, you can change the text size of file names and, in some views, change the size of file icons.

  1. Select a folder in the Finder, then click a View button: Icon, List, Column, or Cover Flow.

  2. Choose View > Show View Options, then set the options you want.

    • To have the folder always open in the view, select the “Always open in” checkbox.

    • To have subfolders also open in the view, select the “Browse in” checkbox.

      If a subfolder opens in a different view, select the subfolder, choose View > Show View Options, then deselect the “Always open in” and “Browse in” checkboxes. The checkboxes must be selected for the main folder and deselected for the subfolder.

  3. To use these settings for all Finder folders that are in this view, click Use as Defaults.

    For example, if you set options for Icon view, then click Use as Defaults, all folders in Icon view appear with the same options. Use as Defaults isn’t available for Column view because the settings apply automatically to all folders in Column view.

Customize the Finder toolbar and sidebar

There are several ways to customize the Finder toolbar and Finder sidebar.

Before you start, open a Finder window by clicking the Finder icon at the left end of the Dock.

Finder icon in Dock

Customize the toolbar

Hide or show the toolbar: Choose View > Hide Toolbar, or View > Show Toolbar.

Hiding the toolbar also hides the sidebar, and moves the status bar from the bottom to the top of the window.

Resize the toolbar: If you see angle brackets  at the right end of the toolbar, it means the window is too small to show all of the toolbar items. Enlarge the window or click the brackets to see the rest of the items.

Change what’s in the toolbar: Choose View > Customize Toolbar. You can drag items into and out of the toolbar, add a space between items, and choose whether to show text with the icons.

Rearrange the items in the toolbar: Hold down the Command (⌘) key, then drag an item to a new location.

Add a file or app: Hold down the Command (⌘) key, then drag the item to the Finder toolbar until a green plus sign (+) appears.

Remove an item: Drag the item out of the toolbar until you see a puff of smoke.

Customize the sidebar

Hide or show the sidebar: Choose View > Hide Sidebar or View > Show Sidebar. (If Show Sidebar is dimmed, choose View > Show Toolbar.)

Resize the sidebar: Drag the right side of the divider bar to the right or left.

Change what’s in the sidebar: Choose Finder > Preferences, click Sidebar, then select or deselect items.

Rearrange items in the sidebar: Drag an item to a new location. You can’t rearrange items in the Shared section.

Add a file, folder, or disk: Drag the item to the Favorites section.

If you don’t see the Favorites section, go to Finder > Preferences > Sidebar, then select at least one item in the section.

Add an app: Hold down the Command (⌘) key, then drag its icon to the Favorites section.

Remove an item: Drag the item icon out of the sidebar until you see a puff of smoke.

The sidebar link disappears, but the original item is still on your Mac. You can’t remove items from the Shared section.

To change other Finder preferences, choose Finder > Preferences. For more information, see Finder preferences.

To set the scrolling behavior for Finder (and other) windows, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click General.

Open General preferences for me

Open folders in new Finder tabs or windows

When you open a folder in the Finder, the folder’s contents usually replace the current contents of the window. If you prefer, you can open a folder in a new tab or window.

Set folders to open in tabs or windows

  1. In the Finder, choose Finder > Preferences, then click General.

  2. Select or deselect “Open folders in tabs instead of new windows.”

Open folders in tabs or windows

Press the Command (⌘) key while you double-click the folder.

The folder opens in a new tab or window, depending on your Finder preferences.

Tip:   If the Finder toolbar and sidebar are hidden, double-clicking a folder without pressing the Command key opens the folder in a new window.

To open a new Finder window without opening a specific folder, choose File > New Finder Window or press Command (⌘)–N.

Work with tabs

If all of your tabs aren’t visible, scroll through them.

When two or more tabs are open, click Add  to open a new tab.

To close a tab, place the pointer over the tab, then click Delete .

Show or hide filename extensions

Filename extensions—the period followed by a few letters or words that you see at the end of some filenames (for example, .jpg)—indicate which app can open a file.

Filename extensions are usually hidden in OS X, but if you find them useful, you can show them. If extensions are hidden, OS X still opens files with the proper apps.

For one file

  1. Select a file, then choose File > Get Info, or press Command (⌘)–I.

  2. Click the triangle next to Name & Extension to expand the section.

  3. To show or hide the filename extension, select or deselect “Hide extension.”

For all files

If you select “Show all filename extensions,” all extensions are shown, even for files that have “Hide extension” selected. If you deselect “Show all filename extensions,” then file extensions are shown or hidden based on their individual “Hide extension” settings.

  1. Choose Finder > Preferences, then click Advanced.

  2. Select or deselect “Show all filename extensions.”

When you rename a file or folder, don’t change its filename extension. Or, you may no longer be able to open the file with the app that was used to create it. To be warned before you change an extension, select “Show warning before changing an extension” in the Advanced pane of Finder preferences.

If you want to change a file’s format, use the app you used to create the file. For example, TextEdit can convert a document from plain text format (.txt) to a rich text format (.rtf), and Preview can convert many types of graphics files.

Delete files and folders

At any time, you can get rid of files, folders, and other items that you no longer need. You start by dragging items to the Trash, but the items aren’t deleted until you empty the Trash.

Trash in the Dock
Note:   If you turned off Time Machine or haven’t backed up your files recently, you may want to store a backup copy on a storage device, just in case you change your mind and want the item later.

Delete an item from your Mac

  1. Drag the item to the Trash. Or select the item, then press Command (⌘)–Delete.

  2. Click the Trash, then click Empty. You can also choose Finder > Empty Trash.

    When you see a warning message, click OK.

    Note:   If you see Empty Securely or Finder > Secure Empty Trash instead of Empty or Empty Trash, see If the Empty Trash command isn’t in the Finder menu.

Delete a locked item from your Mac

You must unlock the item before putting it in the Trash.

  1. Select the item, then choose File > Get Info or press Command (⌘)-I.

    If you are not logged in as an administrator, you may need to click the lock icon , then enter an administrator name and password.

  2. Drag the item to the Trash, click the Trash, then click Empty. You can also choose Finder > Empty Trash.

    When you see a warning message, click OK.

Securely empty the Trash

Even after you empty the Trash, deleted files can be recovered using data-recovery software. For extra security, you can delete files so they can’t easily be recovered.

  1. Drag the item to the Trash.

  2. Click the Finder icon in the Dock, then choose Finder > Secure Empty Trash. When you see a warning message, click OK.

    To always empty the Trash securely, choose Finder > Preferences, click Advanced, then select “Empty Trash securely.”

Files deleted in this way are completely overwritten by meaningless data. This may take some time, depending on the size of the files.

Prevent the Trash warning message from appearing

Once: Press the Option key when you click Empty or choose Empty Trash.

Always: Turn off the warning in the Advanced pane of Finder preferences. Choose Finder > Preferences, click Advanced, then deselect “Show warning before emptying the Trash.”

If you change your mind before emptying the Trash

Click the Trash to open it, then drag the item out of the Trash, or select the item and choose File > Put Back.

 

See your files in the Finder

Represented by the blue icon with the smiling face, the Finder is the home base for your Mac. You use it to organize and access almost everything on your Mac.

Example of a Finder window

See your stuff

Click items in the Finder sidebar to see your files, apps, downloads, and more. To make the sidebar even more useful, customize it.

Use folders … or don’t

If you like working in a folder structure, you can do that. It’s easy to create new folders in your Documents folder, on the desktop, or in iCloud Drive. For more information about iCloud Drive, see Store documents with iCloud Drive.

If you’d rather avoid folders, use All My Files. All of the files on your Mac and in iCloud are there. You can also use tags to organize your files.

Choose your view

You can choose how you view the items in Finder windows. For example, you don’t have to view your items in a list—Cover Flow lets you flip through your files and folders visually.

AirDrop it

You can send a file to a nearby iOS device or Mac right from the Finder. Click AirDrop in the sidebar to get started. For more information, see Use AirDrop to send files to devices near you.

You can also select a file in the Finder, then click the Share button  to share it using Mail, Messages, Twitter, Facebook, and more.

Onscreen help in OS X

The Finder and most other Mac apps have a Help menu in the menu bar. Use the Help menu and Help Window to get information about OS X, your Mac, and your apps.

Help menu

In the Help menu, you can search for menu items and help topics.

See how the Help menu works: Click the Finder icon in the Dock, open the Help menu, then enter “clipboard.” The results include the Show Clipboard menu item and help topics about the Clipboard.

See a menu item: Open the Help menu, enter the menu item you’re looking for, then place the pointer over the menu item result.

For example, in the Finder, enter “clipboard” in the Help menu, then place the pointer over Show Clipboard. The Edit menu opens with an arrow pointing to the command.

Get help: Open the Help menu, enter a search term, then choose one of the help topics, or choose Show All Help Topics to see more topics.

Help window

If you choose a help topic from the search results in the Help menu, or if you choose Mac Help or an app’s help (such as Mail Help or iTunes Help), the Help window opens.

Search: Enter a word or two in the search field, then choose a suggestion or press Return.

See more topics for the help you’re viewing: Click the Table of Contents button  in the Help window.

See previous topics: Click the Back  and Forward  buttons.

See a list of recently viewed topics: Click and hold the Back or Forward button until a list appears, then choose the topic you want.

Make text bigger or smaller: Press Command (⌘)-Plus (+) or Command (⌘)-Minus (–).

Find words within the current topic: Press Command (⌘)-F.

Print or share a topic: Click the Share button  in the Help window, then choose an option.

If help doesn’t answer your question

Enter different words in the search field.

If you searched for one word, search for two or three words. If you searched for many words, search for fewer words.

Open the specific app you want help for, then choose Help > [App name] Help.

Make sure you’re connected to the Internet. If you’re not connected, most of the help topics are unavailable.

Share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more

You’ll find the Share button  in the Finder as well as in many OS X apps, including Safari, Notes, Reminders, Photo Booth, and iPhoto. The Share button gives you an easy way to share links, photos, videos, and more—instantly.

Share items from a Finder window

  1. In a Finder window, select one or more items, then click the Share button  in the toolbar.

    If the item is on the desktop, Control-click it, then choose Share from the shortcut menu.

    Share button in a Finder window toolbar
  2. Choose how you want to share from the options listed in the Share menu.

    The options listed—including Email, Messages, Facebook, Twitter, and others—depend on the type of item you’re sharing and how you set up Extensions preferences, as described below.

  3. Provide any additional information needed for the sharing method you chose. For example, if you share a photo using Twitter, you can type some text describing the photo.

Customize the Share menu

You can choose which items appear in the Share menu by using Extensions preferences. Your choices also affect what appears in the Social widget in Today view in Notification Center. For more information.

  1. Click the Share button , then choose More from the Share menu to open Extensions preferences.

    You can also choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Extensions.

    Open Extensions preferences for me

  2. Click Share Menu on the left, then select the items you want in the Share menu and deselect the items you don’t want.

    If an item is selected in Extensions preferences, but you don’t see it in an app’s Share menu, then you can’t use that item to share in that particular app. For example you can’t use AirDrop in Mail or Safari.

You’ll find the Share button in many places on your Mac. You can tweet your favorite webpage links from Safari, share notes via Mail and Messages, and post photos and videos to Flickr or Vimeo. Or select a photo in your Pictures folder and use AirDrop to share it with others near you.

 


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