Some tips to make Mac OS X Finder easier to use

Making the switch from Windows or Linux to Mac OS X is not without pain. The extra CMD key plays havoc with muscle memory, and the “Windows Explorer” of Mac OS X, Finder, is quite a different beast to what you might be used to in the Windows or Linux worlds.

About two weeks ago I decided to make the switch again to Mac OS X and I lamented the difficulty in using Finder to do simple tasks. I’m still not 100% happy with Mac OS X it but the tips on the following pages made things easier:

  • Home and End keys work on a line, not a document, silly.
  • Disable natural scrolling.
  • Switch CMD and ALT if you’re using a PC keyboard. I have a lovely split keyboard but the default configuration hurt my fingers.
  • Change the keyboard layout if your keyboard doesn’t work the way you’re used to. I still haven’t got this set up exactly as I want it to. In my terminal some keys act differently I think but I haven’t set aside time to work out which. I need to swap ” (shift-2) with @ (key to the top/left of right-shift). My muscle memory gets them mixed up all the time.
  • Automount SMB drives automatically. I haven’t been able to get the fstab method to work yet because my password has spaces but the “User Login” one works well enough.
  • Change Finder search so it searches the current directory by default.
  • Type the path into Finder.
  • 9 tips to improve Finder.
  • Sorting and arranging in Finder.
  • Right click on the directory name in Finder and show a dropdown of the path to that directory.
  • Install Mac Ports to get a working copy of Rsync and a better ls that lets me put parameters after the filename.

There are still oddities. When Mac OS X mounts an SMB share it does so with permissions that only allows the current user to edit files in the share. That’s perfectly understandable but it messes things up for Rsync when I’m syncing directories with a remote host. I’ve had to resort to using the “–size-only” parameter of Rsync so it won’t attempt to sync every file each time. I need to figure out if that can be fixed somehow.

I’ll update this post from time to time as I come across more oddities.

How to rename a file in Mac OS X

Silly bugger, doesn’t he know Macs are easy to use? Well, yes they are but it’s not obvious how you can rename a file or folder in Finder. I had to look it up in a book to find out. (Thanks Barry for “The Missing Manual”!)

It is rather simple to rename a file actually, although not obvious.

  • In Finder, open the folder with your file in it.
  • See all those pretty icons? Don’t click on them. Find the icon for your file. Click once on that icon then click and hold the mouse button down on the filename below it.
  • After about a second of holding down the mouse button the text will become editable and you can type over the filename. Be careful you don’t change the extension because bad things will happen!

Simple when you know how.

Meanwhile, Mark is documenting his own experiences with a Mac Mini. Must try X-Chat Aqua.