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Organizing Your Digital Media: Using Macintosh

How to organize and work with digital media files (images, videos, audios) on your Windows or Macintosh computer

Created by Health Science Librarians

Working with folders and files on the Macintosh

Using Macintosh

This section discusses working with folders and files on the Macintosh, including these topics:

For a more in-depth discussion of the Apple Macintosh, see our Getting Started with Macintosh Guide.  Or, take a look at Apple's Mac Find Out How page.

Macintosh Finder

The Finder is the Macintosh's graphical interface, which allows you to find and manage all your files and programs on the Mac. To get to the Finder, double-click any folder, or click in any blank area of your Mac's desktop. The Finder menu bar will appear at the top of the screen.


Click on a menu heading to see the menu.

To look at and manage files and folders, double-click any folder, or choose File > New Finder Window from the Finder menu. Finder windows allow you to look at all of your stuff, including all your files and folders (directories).


Finder Window views

By default , a toolbar appears at the top of the Finder window including icons that allow you to view folder items in different ways. (If you don't see the view icons, choose View> Customize Toolbar or View>Show Toolbar from the Finder menu). 

In thumbnail view, you can change the size of the thumbnails using the slider at the bottom of the window.  The path of the folder also appears at the bottom of the Finder window (it it doesn't appear, choose View>Show Path Bar). 

Alternatively, you can look at files in List View, shown below: 


Examining individual files

To get a closer look at an image, choose Quick Look from the toolbar: 


To get more information about a file, select the file, and choose File < Get Info (keyboard shortcut is command-I). In the Get Info dialog box, you can view and change the program that opens the file (“Open with”) and if you wish the default program for all files of its type (“Change All…”). In the example below, you might want to change “Open With” to Photoshop and then click Change All… the make all tiff files open in Photoshop.


Alternatively, you can control-click (or right-click, if you have a two-button mouse) to see a menu of options. To open the file 



Finding files

To search for a file, click in the Search box in the upper-right corner of the Finder window. You can specify search criteria further by click on Search:  headings at the top of the Finder window (just beneath the toolbar):





Finding folders and files Using the sidebar

Another way to quickly access files and folders is by clicking on items in the Finder sidebar. 



Under the DEVICES heading in the sidebar you can access hard drives and other devices connected to your Macintosh. Folders for the currently selected device appear in the main window (to the right of the sidebar). 

Under PLACES appear icons you can click that point to places and types of files you are likely to visit frequently. You can add an item under the PLACES heading by dragging a folder or file to it. (This doesn't move the folder or file; it creates a shortcut to it.)

Under SEARCH FOR heading are smart folders that point to items that meet certain criteria. Control-click on a smart folder to look at its criteria. 

If you wish you can create a new smart folder with your own specifications. To do this,  choose File > New Smart Folder from the Finder menu.  In the new window that appears, add criteria by clicking the + sign in the upper right of the window, then select search options and click Save.  


For a more in-depth discussion of using the Apple Macintosh, see our Getting Started with Macintosh Guide.  Or, take a look at Apple’s Mac Find Out How page.