OS X El Capitan: Finder preferences

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.
Finder preferences

Use Finder preferences to set options for Finder windows, file extensions, and the Trash.

To view Finder preferences, click the Finder icon in the Dock, then choose Finder > Preferences.

Finder icon in Dock


Show these items on the desktop

Select any items you want to see on the desktop.

New Finder windows show

Choose which folder is displayed when you open a new Finder window.

Open folders in tabs instead of new windows

Select what happens when you hold down the Command key and double-click a folder.

  • When selected: Folders open in tabs.

  • When deselected: Folders open in windows.


Show these tags in the sidebar

Customize the tags you see in the Finder sidebar.

  • See a tag in the sidebar: Select the checkbox to the right of the tag.

  • Change a tag color: Click the color next to the tag , then choose a new color.

  • Change a tag name: Click the tag, click the tag’s name, then enter a new name.

  • Create a new tag: Click the Add button .

  • Delete a tag: Select the tag, then click the Remove button .

Favorite Tags

Customize the tags you see in the shortcut menu that appears when you Control-click a file.

  • Add a tag: Select it in the list above the Favorite Tags section, then drag it over the tag you want to replace. You can have up to seven tags in the shortcut menu.

  • Remove a tag: Drag it out of the Favorite Tags section until you see a gray remove sign (x).

For more information about tags, see Use tags to organize files.


Show these items in the sidebar

Select the items you want to see in the Finder sidebar.

These items also appear in Open and Save dialogs.


Show all filename extensions

A filename extension—the period followed by a few letters or words that you see at the end of some filenames (for example, .jpg)—identifies the type of file. This option affects most, but not all, filenames. You can show or hide extensions for individual files in their Info windows.

Show warning before changing an extension

Display a warning if you accidentally try to change an extension. As a rule, you shouldn’t change filename extensions.

Show warning before emptying the Trash

Display a warning so you don’t accidentally delete items in the Trash.

When performing a search

Choose what you want to search by default when you use the search field in Finder windows. You can search your entire Mac, the folder that’s currently open, or the scope you specified the last time you searched in a Finder window.

For even more ways to customize Finder windows, see Customize the Finder toolbar and sidebar.

Published Date: Sep 19, 2017