1/ Recent items — One of my favourite general Mac Finder features is the Recent Items folder, which lists the last few apps and the last few documents you opened. It’s in the Apple menu so you can use the feature no matter what you are doing. Within apps, under the File menu, there’s also an Open Recent option – this is handy as you can see the last few documents you had open in that particular app.
Security — remember, if you can see these things, so can anyone else. Luckily you can clear these – select Apple Menu>Recent Items and choose Clear Menu from the bottom. In apps, the Open Recent also gives you the option to clear this if you want to delete the easy-open of files you have been working with/looking at.
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2/ Where you have been — Your Mac also tracks where you have been, for your convenience should you wish to open a recently -used folder again without having to troll through your entire hard drive again. In Finder (ie, when you can see the word ‘Finder’ immediately beside your Apple menu) choose the Go menu, which offers a standard list of places you’re likely to go. But notice Recent Folders under this list – and also that it has a Clear Menu option at the bottom.
3/ What files are and how much space they’re using — Choose About This Mac from the Apple menu, then click on the More Info button, then on the Storage tab. Now you’ll see a very general graphical layout of the file allocation for each volume connected to your Mac. This representation lists Audio, Movies, Photos, Apps, Backups … and the somewhat mysterious ‘Other’.
This entry can account for a lot of space on the drive. It denotes files that don’t fit into the other five categories. This classification is based on Spotlight indexing.
Other files include the contents of the System and Library folders (because Spotlight won’t report on them by default), non-media documents such as text files and email archives, plug-ins and extensions, media files tucked away inside packages (because Spotlight can’t look inside packages – ie the contents of applications themselves), and other file types mysterious to Spotlight.
4/ Finder problems? Relaunch it — Sometimes the Finder locks up, or configuration changes you have made require a Finder restart. You don’t actually have to restart your Mac to do this. Making sure the Finder is the frontmost app, hold down the shift key on your keyboard and open the Apple menu. Select ‘Force Quit Finder’ and the Finder will automatically relaunch.
Alternatively, you can select Force Quit and relaunch the Finder from the list of running apps. Press this keyboard combo: Command-Option-Escape to launch the Force Quit window. Note that the button in Force Quit is different for the Finder app – it says Relaunch instead. Click it … the Finder relaunches.
Thirdly, you can hold down the Option key and click-and-hold on the Finder app for a Relaunch option (and more).
5/ Whisk files into the Trash — While you’re in the Finder, you can zap files into the trash instantly with a keyboard combo, saving all that clicking and dragging. It’s a little bit dangerous as they whisk into it without a moment’s hesitation, but it’s also pretty cool. Click and select a file (or click and drag over several files) then hold down the Command key on your keyboard, then press the Delete key at top-right of your keyboard.
The trash doesn’t empty, it just fills with the files you Command-delete. But … there’s a combo for instant emptying, too: Command Shift Delete (it only works when you are in the Finder).