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Power tips for managing files in Apple's Finder

Topher Kessler | April 8, 2015
You're already doing most of your file management in the Finder--now add some hotkeys and modifiers to make it even easier.

While some of OS X's applications have their own data structures--like Mail and Photos--Finder is likely where you will be doing most of your file organization. After you have created or collected hundreds (if not thousands) of files on your Mac, you might often find yourself needing to move these items around, print them, open them, and delete them so frequently that the basic uses of the mouse become somewhat limiting.

That's where hidden options, like special hotkeys and modifiers, come in-- you can use these to enhance your file management. With practice, you'll eventually be able to quickly access what you need and organize it accordingly. Here is a handful of our favorite Finder tips and tricks.

Use Spotlight to reveal files 
Spotlight can be used to quickly find most items on your Mac, either by name or by content, and while the default "click" action is to open that file in its default application, you can hold the Command key when opening search results to reveal them in Finder. This option allows you to quickly access any file you know of, especially if you use hotkeys for accessing Spotlight. Simply press Command-Space to activate Spotlight, enter your search terms, and when you find what you're looking for, use arrows to highlight it. Then, then press Command-Enter to reveal it in the Finder. You can now use other hotkeys (mentioned below) to manage this file.

Use hotkeys for file selection
In addition to using Spotlight for finding and selecting individual files in the Finder, you can use a number of hotkeys to manage the files in any active Finder window. The first is Command-A, which selects all files in that window. You can also manage selections by holding the Command or Shift keys and then clicking files to add or remove them from the current selection--Command will add and remove one file at a time, whereas Shift will add all files between the current selection and the new file.

Manage your files with hotkeys, too
Once you have one or more files added to a selection, you can manage them using various hotkeys. For example, press Command-Delete to move files to the trash, and then hit Shift-Command-Delete to empty the trash. When coupled with Spotlight, these hotkeys offer a quick way to locate and remove files from your system, without having to touch your mouse or trackpad.

In addition to deleting files, you can use the classic Copy and Paste hotkeys to move and copy files to new locations. To start, select your files and press Command-C to copy a file reference to your clipboard. From here, you can then go to a destination folder, and press Command-V to paste and copy the files to this location, or you can press Option-Command-V to paste and permanently move the files to this location. This will work across file systems, so if you're copying files to a thumb drive you, you can use this hotkey to quickly move them there instead of dragging and dropping to copy--when you drag and drop, you have to move the originals to the trash to avoid keeping duplicates.


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