Organize Your Folders Like Nice Little Soldiers

I’m a fairly organized guy. No, I’m not some super neat freak but I do like things lined up neatly so that I can find them. My desk at home is pretty organized and I like to think my Mac is fairly organized too.

You can imagine then my dismay when I went to play some music this morning only to find this.

Oi vey, how do I straighten these up?

It’s like someone just took all my CDs and dumped them on the floor.

It took a little bit of digging but I figured out what to do. The secret lies in the view options window.

Cmd-J to bring up the View Options for the Finder window. You should see something like this screenshot.

Use View Options to organize your folder

Click on Sort By and change the value to Name and voilĂ  you have an organized Finder window.

The magic of Sort By

The magic of Sort By

You can also sort by other properties, give it a try and feel happy knowing that Apple can help keep your OCD tendencies in check.

Clean up “Open With” context menu

If you are running OS X you might notice that, over time, your context menu has become bloated. The screen shot below shows the context menu for text files. As you can see, it could use pruning.

Luckily, it’s easy to prune this list. All you need to do is delete a Finder preference file.

  1. Go to your Home/Library/Preferences folder
  2. Find “” file
  3. Delete it

The other way you can do this is by rebuilding the Launch Services database using the following command from the Terminal.

sudo /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

For me this second option seems to work best.

Quickly Navigate In and Out of Finder Folders

Mac OS X FinderI found this by accident today. I thought it was cool enough to warrant it’s own post.

If you highlight a folder and press the Cmd plus the arrow keys some cool stuff happens. Here you go.

Cmd+Right Arrow will open the contents of the folder in your current window

Cmd+Left Arrow will close the open folder in the current window

Cmd+Down Arrow will open the the folder in the existing Finder window

Cmd+Up Arrow will open the parent folder in the existing Finder window.

Try them today. Pretty sweet.

Removing Icons from the OS X Desktop

This installment of Learning OS X shows you how you can turn on and off the various media icons on your desktop. These icons include network shares, hard disk icons, removable disks, CDs, DVDs and iPods.

If you prefer reading over the video then follow these steps.

  1. Open the Finder Preferences
    1. Click the Finder menu click Preferences.
  2. Then on the Finder preferences dialog, click the General tab.
  3. Then, check or un-check the icons you want to appear on the desktop.

As you toggle the checkboxes you will see the icons appear and disappear.

Welcome to your OS X Desktop

If you are following along in order, this is the first post you should read.

Welcome to OS X and your Mac Desktop. If you’ve never used a computer before or if you’ve never used a Mac, this post is going to give you a great overview of the pieces of the Mac OS X desktop. It covers some basic concepts and introduces a few terms that will be using over and over again. The entire tutorial should take you about 10 minutes to read through.

Behold, the Mac OS X Desktop in all it’s glory:

Behold! The Mac OS X Desktop

Behold! The Mac OS X Desktop

The desktop is broken into a number of sections. We will touch on each of them briefly here and give them deeper treatment in later articles.

Let’s start at the top of the screen.

The Apple Menu

The Apple Menu designated by the Apple symbol is a system wide menu and contains important menu items like Sleep, Restart and Shutdown. If you have your Mac setup for multiple users it also has a Logout Menu. The additional menu items we will touch on in later articles

The Menu Bar

Your interaction with your Mac is through running Applications When you surf the web, check email, view pictures, etc. you are using specific Applications. These applications are like obstinate children, they must be commanded before they will do anything. Commands are given through the use of application menus. When you are running an application, the commands for that application are always placed in the Menu Bar.

The commands are typically laid out in a logical structure so if you learn commands for one application, you will find similar commands for another application in the same place. Since you are currently reading this article on the Internet, you are probably looking at the Menu for Safari. Go ahead and click through some of the menu items. I’ll wait.

Menu Extras or Menulets

To the left of the Menu Bar is an area that holds Menu Extras or as they are affectionately known, “menulets”. Menulets provide quick access to common System Preferences items. They provide both a menu (click on one and you’ll see) and feedback (note the battery indicator in the screenshot). We’ll discuss these more in a later post.


Below the menu area is the Mac Desktop. You can do all sorts of cool customizations to the desktop and we’ll get to those later. For now, know that the Desktop like a real desktop can hold things that you use frequently. In the screenshot above, our desktop contains an icon for a Mac Disk Drive. Keep in mind, you can drag any type of file or folder onto the desktop and if you’re not careful could end up with something like this desktop below.

The Dock

The Dock is the strip of icons at the bottom of your screen. The Dock is broken into two areas, the left side holds program icons, the right side holds everything else including folders and the trash can.

The program area of the dock provides you with one click shortcuts to open your favorite programs. You can add and remove programs to the dock by dragging the icons on and off the dock area.

The right side of the dock contains shortcuts to your Documents and Downloads folders. You can drag additional favorite folders into this area. It also houses the trash can where unneeded items go to die.


This is the end of our brief tour of the Mac OS X Desktop, additional articles will dive into each of these items in more detail.