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Apple Hid the Proxy Icon in Big Sur’s Finder. Here’s How to Reveal It

This is a twofer tip. You may not have known that every document window in macOS has long had a proxy icon in the title bar, next to the filename. The proxy icon is not just cosmetic. You can drag it to Mail to attach the document to a message, to a Web browser to upload it, or to any other location you can drag a document’s icon in the Finder (top screenshot, below, showing Preview in Catalina). You can also drag proxy icons from Finder windows to Open and Save dialogs to navigate to the location of the proxy icon and even pre-fill the filename when saving. Alas, in macOS 11 Big Sur, in at least the Finder and Preview, Apple chose to hide the proxy icon and the drop-down menu that lets you rename, tag, or move files using controls on the title bar (middle screenshot, below). Plus, the new title bar design tends to truncate file names. Happily, mousing over the filename expands the name and reveals both the proxy icon and the drop-down menu (bottom screenshot, below). Apple’s desire to reduce onscreen clutter makes usage more cumbersome than before, but all the functionality is still present.

(Featured image by Harrison Haines from Pexels)

Having Trouble Finding Files on Your Mac? Here’s How to Reset Spotlight

For the most part, Spotlight works well. Press Command-Space or use the Search field in a Finder window, and it finds everything that matches your search term. Sometimes, however, Spotlight fails to turn up a file that you know is present, likely due to index corruption. To fix the problem, you can force Spotlight to rebuild its index. (Don’t do this unless it’s necessary since reindexing can take a long time and may impact the performance of your Mac while it’s happening.) Open System Preferences > Spotlight > Privacy, and then drag your drive (or the drive on which Spotlight isn’t finding files) into the list of locations that Spotlight shouldn’t search. That deletes the old Spotlight index. Still working in the Spotlight Privacy list, select the drive and click the – button below the list. Spotlight now reindexes the contents of the drive and should find your files properly in the future.

(Featured image by cottonbro from Pexels)

Reclaim Local Storage Space by Removing iCloud Drive Downloads

With iCloud Drive, Apple provides an Optimize Mac Storage checkbox that, when checked, stores the full contents of iCloud Drive on the Mac only if there’s enough space. However, you may wish to recover local storage space without selecting that option—luckily, that’s easy to do. Open iCloud Drive in the Finder, Control-click a file, and choose Remove Download. The file remains in iCloud Drive, and if you need it locally, you can click the cloud icon next to its name to download it. If you’re not sure which files in the iCloud Drive window occupy the most space, choose View > As List, and then click the Size column so the largest files sort to the top (click again if they’re sorting to the bottom).

(Featured image based on originals by Denny Müller on Unsplash and Mahir Uysal on Unsplash)

A Quick Shortcut to Create an Instant Slideshow from a Folder of Images

You probably know that you can select an image in the Finder and press the Space bar to preview it in a Quick Look window. And you may know that you can use the arrow keys to preview other files in the same folder without closing and reopening the Quick Look window. But did you know that if you select multiple images in the Finder and hold down the Option key when pressing the Space bar, the Finder will run a full-screen slideshow with a 5-second interval between images? Move the cursor to display slideshow controls, including a button to bring up an index sheet. This feature isn’t something most people need every day, but it can be a lifesaver when you need to run a quick slideshow at a party or presentation.

(Featured image by 祝 鹤槐 from Pexels)

Use These Settings to Show or Hide Filename Extensions

On the Mac, nearly every file has an extension, a set of characters after a period that indicates what type of file it is and determines which app opens it. So, .png indicates a PNG graphic that opens in Preview by default, .pages denotes a Pages document, and .docx identifies a file as belonging to and opening in Microsoft Word. Plus, the extension for all applications is .app. Depending on what you do, how often you exchange files with people on other platforms, and your personal preference, you may wish to see more or fewer extensions. You control that in Finder > Preferences > Advanced, with the “Show all filename extensions” checkbox. Individual files can override the setting, so if an extension isn’t doing what you want, select the file, choose File > Get Info, and check or uncheck the Hide Extension checkbox in the Info window.

(Featured image created with originals by Patrick Ward on Unsplash and Mateusz Zdrzałek from Pixabay)

Make Your Finder Window Columns the Right Size

We’re big fans of column view in Finder windows (choose View > as Columns). You never have to worry about missing icons that are outside the window, everything is sorted alphabetically, and selecting a file shows a preview. But the column widths can be too thin, such that they cut off file and folder names, or too wide, forcing you to scroll unnecessarily. You probably know you can drag the handles at the bottom of the column dividers, but that’s fussy when you have lots of columns. Instead, double-click a column handle to expand or shrink the column so the longest name fits perfectly. Option-double-click a column handle to do that for all the columns showing. If you forget, Control-click a handle to see commands for Right Size This Column, Right Size All Columns Individually, and Right Size All Columns Equally.

(Featured image by nonbirinonko from Pixabay)

Find Files in the Finder Better by Specifying a Search Scope

This isn’t about periscopes or mouthwash—when it comes to searching, a scope is the area in which a search takes place. When you use the Search field in a Finder window to look for files and folders, you have the choice of two scopes: This Mac or the current folder. You can always switch the scope after starting the search by clicking the other choice near the top of the window, but it’s easier to set the default search scope in Finder > Preferences > Advanced so it’s set right to start. From the “When performing a search” pop-up menu, choose Search This Mac to search across all indexed drives, Search the Current Folder to limit the search to the folder showing when you start the search, or Use the Previous Search Scope. Most of the time, if you have any idea where the item you’re looking for might be, selecting an enclosing folder and then searching within it is the best approach.

(Featured image by Noah Fischer from Pixabay)

Customize What Appears in New Finder Windows with This Tip

When you’re in the Finder, choosing File > New Finder Window does, as you’d expect, open a new Finder window. But what folder appears in that window? By default, new Finder windows open to Recents, which is a built-in smart folder showing recently opened documents. If you’d prefer to see items in a fixed location on your drive, go to Finder > Preferences > General and choose any location from the New Finder Windows Show pop-up menu. We’re partial to Desktop or Documents, but you can choose whatever folder makes sense with your workflow.

(Featured image by Snapwire from Pexels)

Personalize Your Mac with Custom Document Icons

Do you have a document that you open regularly, perhaps from your Desktop? If you’d like to make it stand out from other documents, why not give it a custom icon? This was common practice on the Mac back in the day, and it’s still possible in modern versions of macOS. Go to Google Images and search for “searchTerm icon” to see what images are available. (It’s fine to use any graphic for one-time personal use; if you’re planning to distribute the file or publish the icon in any way, make sure to read and honor any licensing requirements.) Download an image you like (Control-click it and look for a Save Image command), open it in Preview (where you can delete any background or crop as desired), press Command-A for Select All, and Command-C to copy the image. Then select the icon for the file you want to customize, press Command-I to open its Get Info window, click the current icon in the upper-left corner (it gets a faint highlight outline), and press Command-V to paste.

(Featured image by Andrew Wulf on Unsplash)

Tired of PDFs or Other Documents Opening in the Wrong App?

When you double-click a document, macOS uses the document’s file extension to figure out which app should open the file. So, by default, a PDF file called laser-squid.pdf opens in Preview because the Finder knows that everything with a .pdf extension should open in Preview. But what if you would prefer to open .pdf files in Adobe Reader, or you want comma-separated value (.csv) text files to open in Numbers? To change any mapping, select a file of the type in question and choose File > Get Info to open the Info window. In the Open With section, click the pop-up menu to choose the desired app and then click the Change All button.