How to Organize Finder

Apple has made it easy for Mac users to keep all their files and folders neatly organized. Here are a few tricks and tips that will help you to get and stay organized:

How to Organize Finder

Many of the options and functions can be accessed from the Action button (that button with the cog graphic on a Finder window toolbar). Its contents relate to whatever’s selected in the window, or if nothing is selected, the whole folder that you are viewing.

How to Move and Copy

Generally, when you drag a file or folder from one location to another in Finder, the item is moved, but this relates only to the cases when you move the item within the same hard drive. If however you drag something to a separate drive or a separate server, the item will be copied. The same happens if you drag an item into some applications.

If you drag a whole disk or if you drag a file onto a blank CD, for example, you’ll drag an alias rather than a copy. For all these cases, your mouse pointer displays a green plus sign if the item is going to be copied, or a black arrow if an alias will be created.

If you want another action to be performed, you can do the following:

  • Press Option (Alt) key to drag a copy of the file. This also works for text in most applications.
  • Press Option (Alt) key + Command key to drag an alias.
  • Press Command key to move the item instead of copying it, or copy the item instead of creating an alias.

To duplicate file or folder: Select the file (files) or folder (folders) and press Command Key+D. A copy appears next to the original item.

Copy and Paste: It is also possible to copy and paste files and folders just as you act while working with a text in a document. To perform this operation, select the item, press Copy in the Edit menu or press Command key + C. Open the folder or drive where you want to put the item and press Paste or Command key + V.


Files that are created only to point to another file, folder or drive, are called aliases (or shortcuts). To create an alias, select the item (file, folder or drive) and press Command key + L. You can also choose Make Alias from the File menu, or drag the file while holding down Option + Command key. When you delete an alias, you are only deleting the shortcut, so no harm is done to the original item.

Today, aliases are used much less frequently, because dropping shortcuts to the Dock and Sidebar is more convenient; still, you may like them since they give you a direct access to a file via your desktop and so on.


You can mark up your files and folders using one of six colors, which is very useful if you are working with many files. For example, you can mark all your unfinished files with a red label, and the documents you have already finished can be marked as green.

To pick a color, select the item (or various items). Then choose from the Label section of the File menu. Alternatively, right-click in the context menu.

You can change the name of the label. To do so, go to Finder’s Preferences and choose Finder’s List view. Now you can add labels as a column and see the customized names you assigned to the labels.


You can set Finder to always open folders into a new window from the General pane of Finder’s Preferences, though this does tend to make things a little cluttered as more and more windows will appear.

Explore Automator and Folder Actions if you have to perform a repetitive task with copying and moving folders.

To cancel a drag that’s in progress, press Escape. This works in most applications and not just files in Finder.

If you drag an item and hold it over the icon of a folder or drive, including those files which are located on the sidebar, the folder or drive will open up in a new window. This feature is useful as it means you can always drag files wherever you like, even without having multiple windows open: drag the item to Macintosh HD and drill down from there. Hitting space while hovering makes it open instantly.

It is possible to open a folder into a new window by holding the Command key while double-clicking it. This can be handy when moving files around.



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