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 voilà 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.

Save Spotlight Searches in the Finder Sidebar

This is a bit of a quickie Finder and Spotlight tip inspired by a comment I made over on the Cultofmac blog.

As you know you can use Spotlight from a Finder window to search for files. Here for example, I’m searching for all the Indie MP3s in my music collection.

So here is the cool part. If you click the Save button you are given the option to put the search into the Sidebar. Once you do this then anytime you need to run a search you can just click the icon in the side bar. Sweet.

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.

Taking Out The Trash

Files deleted on OS X aren’t gone forever (at least not initially). They get put into a special place on the system until you are really sure you want to get rid of it. This special place is called, imaginatively enough, the Trash. The video below walks you through how the Trash can works

Files end up in the Trash a number of different ways, you can select delete from the Finder menu, you can drag files into the Trash. Also, some Mac programs support the Trash so for example, when you delete files from iTunes, they first go into the Trash.

The beauty of having a Trash Can is that if you inadvertently delete a file, you can easily recover the file. In order to do this, you just click the Trash can, choose the file from the Finder window and pull it out of the Trash.

Eventually, however, you may want to actually take the trash out. The main reason for this is that you are eventually going to want to reclaim the space needed by the files in the Trash.

There are a few ways to delete files from the Trash. The easiest is to select the Finder menu and click the Empty Trash menu item. You can also do this with the Cmd+Shift+Delete key combination. Finally, you can right click on the Trash icon on the dock and choose Empty Trash. If you don’t have a two button mouse press the Ctrl key while clicking the Trash.

Doing any of this will remove the files from the Trash can. For all intents and purposes, these files are deleted from your system. However, a clever person could figure out a way to retrieve these files. If you have anything that is particularly sensitives and have a laptop, you may want to use the secure delete feature. Think of secure delete a a document shredder. When you secure delete a file a hacker wouldn’t be able to retrieve the contents of the files. To secure delete your files, select the Finder menu and click the Secure Empty Trash menu item.

If you wish, you can enable Secure delete by default, doing so will ensure that your documents are shredded everytime you empty the Trash. The downside to doing this is it takes longer to delete the Trash.

Enabling Secure Delete by default is easy. Click the Finder menu and select the Preferences menu item. Select the Advanced icon and check the Empty Trash Securely checkbox.

Empt Trash securely Finder preferences

Common Problems

You can place an item in the Trash that you are currently using. This is fine until you go and empty the Trash. If that happens, OS X will display a dialog box explaining that the file is in use. You can solved this problem by closing whatever program happens to be using the file and try emptying the Trash again.