Minimalist Finder

Continuing the topic of organizing files and folders and reducing visual noise, I would like to talk about my Finder and a few tricks that make working with the file manager for Mac a little more enjoyable.

How it all started

A few months ago I was interested in organizing files on my home computer. The reason is obvious – it became more and more difficult to find information, necessary files were lost, unnecessary ones accumulated.

I think you will agree that sometimes there is simply no time left to parse file jams (hello, the Downloads folder). Therefore, the most effective way to get rid of such a routine is to teach the Mac to independently process new files according to certain rules, as well as to simplify the storage itself. Three simple skills helped me achieve this:

  1. Automation of routine file tasks using AppleScript and Hazel (sorting, deleting old ones, sending files to media libraries, etc.);
  2. Tagging key information, which helps to keep it always at hand;
  3. Use of a single-level folder system, which reduces unnecessary navigation through the tree structure of the file manager.

The topic of single-level folders also deserves a separate article. But I am sure that you can grasp the basic principles already from this material.

The result was more than satisfactory for me. The search has become easier, the system has ceased to visually “crush” information and has learned to cleanse itself. I work with recent files through Fresh, Alfred helps me with searching, and for everything else, there is the good old Finder. And now I’ll tell you about how the latter is configured.

Customizing the Finder sidebar

Of course, I started fighting information noise by optimizing the Finder sidebar. By default, there is a whole towel from the custom directory folder standards (applications, documents, downloads, etc.). Why not make it more convenient and simpler?

It turned out that many of these folders are used very rarely or not at all. Some of them do contain valuable information, but access to it requires a lot of clicks.

A good example is the Dropbox folder. It seems to be convenient to keep it in the sidebar, but the reality is that I never work from its root. All that interests me there are specific projects, or rather, the Writing, Mrkdwn and Design folders (I deliberately took out only what I work on every day). I guess you guessed that the root folder of Dropbox fell under the knife, and the project folders, on the contrary, ended up in the Finder sidebar.

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After a little optimization, only the following elements remain in the sidebar:

  • b166ar – user’s parent folder. Occasionally, you still need to get access to the basic sections (Desktop, Documents, etc.), so it makes sense to leave it;
  • Downloads – the place where all new files are collected. Everything that is loaded from the network or copied from external drives only gets here (in no case on the Desktop). Many tasks in Hazel are configured for this folder, which automatically put new files in the appropriate places (movies and music in the iTunes library, photos in iPhoto, etc.);
  • Screens – folder for screenshots. All screenshots from Mac, as well as iPhone and iPad screenshots from Photo Stream are automatically included here. I will tell you how this works in the Hazel review;
  • Writing – folder with current texts;
  • Mrkdwn – Draft Markdown Guide;
  • Design – a folder with my experiments on a new website design

As you can see, I do not have the sections familiar to everyone. Programs, Documents, Films, Music and Images… Let me explain why.

  • Programs – folder with all installed applications. Great and seemingly useful. But I never go there to open some kind of program. There is a great launcher for this, Alfred. If my memory is really bad, then there is always Launchpad.

The only useful feature of the Applications folder in the sidebar is the ability to quickly drag (install) a program you just downloaded. But it has almost lost its relevance. First, almost all programs are automatically installed from the App Store. Secondly, even if some .app appears in the Downloads folder, Hazel will immediately transfer it to the Programs folder and launch it for me. If it is .dmg, then it will be mounted immediately.

  • Documents… 99% of my documents are texts that are in the Writings folder (actually ~ / Dropbox / Writings), which is separately moved to the Finder sidebar. I don’t use iCloud for storage, as I am used to constantly changing text editors and devices. But all the personal documents, of which there are not even a dozen, I just placed in the iCloud document storage (iA Writer, Numbers, Keynote …). As a result, I always have access to all my texts and do not depend at all on the Documents folder;
  • Films, Images, Music. The vast majority of the movies I download are in iTunes compatible format. This means that all video files that go to Downloads are automatically imported into your iTunes library, and the originals are sent to the trash. Thanks to the great plugin Automatic and Hazel for that.
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The same thing happens with music, but with images it is a little more interesting. I import all photos directly through iPhoto. The Downloads folder, as a rule, contains some pictures from the network (interior designs, desktops, jokes, cats, dogs …).

It’s just as easy to set up automatic imports in Pixa. For this, Hazel with tag triggers is suitable. If Hazel sees a picture with the design / workspace / fun … tag, it immediately sends it to Pixa, and deletes the original.

As you can see, the Movies, Pictures and Music folders were also left out of work. Of course, there is some information there, but it is rarely used and is not worth it to separately put them in the Finder.

  • Macintosh HD (disk root directory). Working with the root of a disk is a bad form that has migrated from Windows systems. The root folder should be the user’s folder and nothing else. Please note that this disk can be hidden both through the Finder settings, by unchecking the “Hard drives” checkbox, or by right-clicking on it and selecting “Delete from the side menu”. The latter is useful when you need to leave network drives in the Finder.

Since the most used folder, which I access through the Finder, was the Downloads folder, I asked Finder to display this folder at startup. This can be done in the Settings.

Renaming drives

I spied the idea of ​​names for drives in a blog by Ilya Birman. In his note, he criticized well the ugly names that are used not only by us, but also by Apple. In contrast to any “Macintosh HD”, Ilya suggests using the names of bodies in the solar system. And since I just finished watching How the Universe Works, I really liked this idea.

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After a few minutes of deliberation, the home server was named Sun, and its internal storage was named Plasma. The personal laptop became Earth, its disk became Water.

I called the 1 TB NAS Jupiter, and its small section for the Time Machine – Callisto. With a portable disc, the easiest thing is, it became the Moon.

Of course, at first I was a little confused about the names, but I quickly got used to them. Visually, the new names look much better than the previous ones, and at least they are no worse in work. Be sure to try this system, I’m sure you will like it.

Customizing the Finder display area

My favorite view is lists. But they look normal only after a little adjustment. By default, lists are overloaded with information, most of which I’m not interested in.

I think you know that the folder view is not configured globally, but specifically for each folder. That is, depending on the content, you can customize them in different ways.

For example, let’s take the folder Downloads… By default, you can see the following fields in it:

  • File name;
  • The size;
  • Date of change;
  • A type.

Since this folder is handled well by Hazel, it is empty almost all the time. 10-15 elements is the maximum that can be there at the same time. It is very easy to find something visually there, so the only parameter of interest to me is Size.

The Writings and Screens folder is a different story. The size of text files and screenshots doesn’t interest me at all. But in the first case, I am interested in information about the modification date, in the second – the creation date. I turned off everything else.

If you go through your folders, you will also find a lot of extra fields. Disable them and your Finder will be much easier to read.

In conclusion

Now let’s take another look at the final result. First, to the minimized sidebar, and then to the display area itself.

Better, isn’t it? I hope you get the idea and can make your Finder a little more convenient!

For more useful information on this topic, read the Mac minimalist article.

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