Mac OS X: About Show Info, Get Info, and the Inspector

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This document describes the behavior of the Info, or Inspector, window in various versions of Mac OS X.

The behavior of the Info window has varied throughout different versions of Mac OS X. To see the Info window:

    1. Click the Finder icon in the Dock.
    2. Select an item in the Finder.
    3. Choose Get Info or Show Info (whichever appears) from the File menu.

Here is a chronological summary of the behavior:

Mac OS 8 and 9

If you select an item in the Finder and choose Get Info from the File menu, an Info window appears. Additionally, a new Info window appears each time that you select another item and choose Get Info again. Selecting a new item in the Finder does not affect an open Info window. In this manner, you can open multiple windows for side-by-side comparison.

Mac OS X Server 1.0

The Get Info command is replaced by the Inspector command. After opening the Inspector window, choosing a new item in the Finder dynamically updates the information in the same window to match the new item (rather than opening a new window). While this model prevents visual clutter, it requires a workaround (described below) for comparing different items' info side by side.

Mac OS X 10.0 to 10.1.5

The command is renamed to Show Info, but it retains the dynamic, single-window behavior of the Inspector.

Mac OS X 10.2, 10.3

Mac OS X 10.2 offers both behaviors. The name of the command in the File menu returns to Get Info, and the multi-window behavior is like that of Mac OS 8 or 9. But if you prefer the Inspector-like behavior, you may get it by pressing the Command-Option-I key combination instead of using the Get Info command. Another method for accessing the Inspector is to press and hold the Option key while the File menu is open.

Mac OS X 10.4

As in Mac OS X 10.2 and 10.3, when getting information on two-to-ten items at the same time, multiple information windows open. If you wish, you can get results in a single window with the Command-Option-I key combination.

Information windows are resizable in Mac OS X 10.4 and later.

The Spotlight Comments field in Mac OS X 10.4 is the same as the Comments field in earlier Mac OS X releases.

Mac OS X 10.0, 10.1: Capturing multiple Show Info (dynamic) windows

In Mac OS X 10.1.5 or earlier, if you want to see the Show Info window for multiple items, you may use the Grab utility or the Command-Shift-4 key combination (Mac OS X 10.1 only) to make a a screenshot of a selection.

Mac OS X 10.1 directions

Press and hold the Command, Shift, and "4" keys. You will notice that the pointer changes to a cross hair. Drag the cross hair across the portion of the screen you wish to capture in a screenshot. After you release the mouse button, a picture of the selected area appears on your desktop.

Mac OS X 10.1 users may also use the Grab method described for Mac OS X 10.0.

Mac OS X 10.0 to 10.0.4 directions

    1. Open the Grab application (~/Applications/Utilities).
    2. Choose Selection from the Capture menu.
    3. Move the mouse pointer to one corner of the Show Info window.
    4. Drag the pointer across the portion of the window you wish to keep on screen.

A new window appears with the image of the window you selected. Grab saves images in the TIFF format. You may choose whether or not to save the Grab images when closing their windows.

Figure 1 Comparing Grab images of Show Info windows

Published Date: Feb 17, 2012