Get to know the Finder on your Mac

Learning about the Finder is the first step toward finding and organizing your documents, media, folders, and other files.



The Finder is the first thing that you see when your Mac finishes starting up. It opens automatically and stays open as you use other apps. It includes the Finder menu bar at the top of the screen and the desktop below that. It uses windows and icons to show you the contents of your Mac, iCloud Drive, and other storage devices. It's called the Finder because it helps you to find and organize your files.

Open windows and files

To open a window and see the files on your Mac, switch to the Finder by clicking your desktop or clicking the Finder icon (pictured above) in the Dock. Switching to the Finder also reveals any Finder windows that might be hidden behind the windows of other apps.

When you see a document, app, or other file that you want to open, just double-click it.

Drag the title bar of a window to move the window, or drag the edge of the window to expand it. Use the buttons in the corner of a window to close , minimize , or maximize  the window. 

Learn more about managing windows

Change how your files are displayed

To change how files are displayed in Finder windows, use the View menu in the menu bar, or the buttons at the top of the Finder window. You can view files as icons, in a list, in columns , or in a gallery. And for each view, the View menu provides options to change how items are sorted and arranged, such as by kind, date, or size.

When you view files in a gallery, you can browse your files visually using large previews, so it's easy to identify images, videos, and all kinds of documents. Gallery View even lets you play videos and scroll through multipage documents.

The Preview pane is available in all views by choosing View > Show Preview from the menu bar. Or press Shift-Command (⌘)-P to quickly show or hide the Preview pane.

Learn more about customizing views

Gallery View, showing the sidebar on the left and the Preview pane on the right.

Use Stacks on your desktop

With Stacks, you can automatically organize your desktop into neat stacks of files, so it's easy to keep your desktop tidy and find exactly what you're looking for.

Learn more about Stacks

The sidebar in Finder windows contains shortcuts to AirDrop, commonly used folders, iCloud Drive, devices such your hard drives, and more. Like items in the Dock, items in the sidebar open with just one click.

To change the items in your sidebar, choose Finder > Settings (or Preferences) from the Finder menu bar, then click Sidebar at the top of the settings window. You can also drag files into or out of the sidebar.

If you can't see the sidebar, choose View > Show Sidebar from the menu bar in the Finder. Or press Control-Command-S.

Learn more about customizing the sidebar

To search from a Finder window, use the search field in the corner of the window. To search with Spotlight, click the magnifying glass in the menu bar, or press Command–Space bar. In both Spotlight and Finder, you can use advanced searches to narrow your search results.

Learn more about Spotlight

Delete files

To move a file to the Trash, drag the file to the Trash in the Dock. Or select one or more files and choose File > Move To Trash (Command-Delete).

To remove a file from the Trash, click the Trash to open it, then drag the file out of the Trash. Or select the file and choose File > Put Back.

To delete the files in the Trash, choose File > Empty Trash. The storage space used by those files then becomes available for other files. 


Learn more

  • To change Finder settings, choose Finder > Settings (or Preferences) from the menu bar in the Finder. For example, you can choose whether to show hard disks on the desktop, or whether to show a warning before emptying the Trash.
  • For more information about the Finder and how to use your Mac, choose Help from the menu bar.
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