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Get the most out of Finder views

Kirk McElhearn | March 3, 2016
You can save time by learning when to use Icon, List, Column, or Cover Flow view.

Quick and pretty Cover Flow View

Cover Flow View gives you a different way to view your files. Choose View > As Cover Flow or press Command-4 to view your files and folders as graphics in the top section of a window; the same files are shown in a list in the window's bottom section. (You can't change that bottom section's appearance.) Cover Flow is not very useful for everyday file management because it limits the number of files you can see at a time.

That said, Cover Flow View is a wonderful tool when you need to sift through a folder of photos, videos, or even text files, as long as OS X can display the contents of those files. If you increase the size of your window, Cover Flow View can display huge previews. This is helpful, for example, when you need to find a Word document or a Numbers spreadsheet with specific content at the beginning. (No matter how big the preview is, Cover Flow displays only the document's first page.)

See more with Quick Look

All four views can display some kind of preview, but nothing compares with Quick Look. Use it in any view by selecting a file and pressing the spacebar. If the Finder can read the file type, a Quick Look window pops open and displays the file's contents. You don't have to wait for an app to load or the file to open, which means that you save a lot of time when you just want to glance at some files to find the one you're looking for.

Quick Look can be more or less interactive for different types of files. For Apple Numbers and Microsoft Excel workbooks, you can click on worksheets to see their contents. You can scroll through Microsoft Word documents and Apple Keynote presentations, and you can click on links in HTML pages. Have a folder full of files you want to examine closely but quickly? Select the files and then press the spacebar.

You'll see a number of tools displayed on the Quick Look window. With some files, such as PDFs, Word files, Pages files, etc., you'll be able to view thumbnails of the files' pages. If you've selected multiple files, click on the Previous and Next arrows to move through your files. Click on the Index Sheet button to see all the files' previews at once, or click the Full Screen double-arrow button to make the preview fill your screen. If you decide that you want to preview a different file, don't close the Quick Look window; rather, just click on a different file. The Quick Look window will update to show the selected item. And click the Open With button at the top of the window to open the file with its default app. There's also a share button at the top right that lets you send it to a friend by email or Messages, share it on Facebook or Twitter, and more.


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