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Files and Folders

Create a new folder?

File → New Folder (in the Finder)

Control-click → New Folder (in a Finder window or on the Desktop)


In earlier versions of the Mac OS, -N was used to create new folders; now -N is used for opening a new Finder window.

Rename a file or folder?

Click once on the icon and hit Return, type in the new name, and then hit Return to accept the new name.

Click once on the icon, and then click once on the name of the file to highlight it (or press Return). Type in the new name for the file or folder, and hit Return to accept the new name.

Click on the icon, and then use -I to open the Get Info window. Click on the disclosure triangle next to Name & Extension, and enter the new file or directory name.

In the Terminal, use the following command:

[macchuck:~] chuck% mv myFile.txt yourFile.txt

The mv command will change the name of myFile.txt to yourFile.txt.

Change the program associated with a particular extension?

Click on a file, and then use File → Get Info (or -I). Click on the disclosure triangle next to "Open with" and select one of the applications from the pull-down menu, or choose Other to select a different program. If you want to specify that application as the default for opening files with that particular extension, click the Change All; otherwise, close the Info window to save the changes.

Change the permissions for a file or directory?

Click on a file or directory, and then use File → Get Info (or -I). Click on the disclosure triangle next to "Ownership & Privileges" to change the access for the Owner, Group, and Others.

Use the chmod command. To learn more about chmod and its options, see its manpage (man chmod).

Copy a file to the Desktop instead of moving it or creating a shortcut?

Select the file, then Option-drag the icon to the Desktop (notice a plus sign will appear next to the pointer in a green bubble), and release the mouse button.

In the Finder, select the file → Edit → Copy filename → Home → double-click on the Desktop icon → Edit → Paste item.

Find out where an open file exists in the filesystem?

Command-click on the proxy icon in the titlebar. This will pop open a context menu, showing you where the file exists. Selecting another item (such as a hard drive or a folder) from the proxy icon's context menu will open a Finder window taking you to that location.

Quickly create a directory and a set of numbered directories (such as for chapters in a book)?

[macchuck:~] chuck% mkdir -p NewBook/{ch}{01,02,03,04,05}
[macchuck:~] chuck% ls -F NewBook
ch01/ ch02/ ch03/ ch04/ ch05/

Try doing that in the Finder—you can't! After issuing the first command, ls -F NewBook is used to list the folders within the NewBook directory, which shows us that five separate subdirectories have been created.

Quickly delete a directory (and its subdirectories) without sending it to Trash?

Issue the following command in the Terminal:

[macchuck:~] chuck% rm -rf  directory_name 

Make the Trash stop asking me if I'm sure I want to delete every file?

Finder → Preferences; uncheck the option next to "Show warning before emptying the Trash"

Empty the trash of locked items?

Shift-Option--Delete. The addition of the Option key forces the deletion of the contents of Trash.

Give a file or folder a custom icon?

Open an image file, and copy it with -C. Select the icon → File → Get Info (-I). Select the file icon in the General section, and then paste (-V) in the new image.

The proper image size for an icon is 128 × 128 pixels.

Quickly create an alias of an open file, or move it, depending on the app (e.g., Word)?

Click and drag the file's proxy icon to a new location (i.e., the Desktop, Dock, Finder, etc.). The file must first be saved and named before an alias can be created.

Dragging a folder's proxy icon from a Finder window's titlebar will move that folder to the new location instead of creating an alias. If you want to create an alias for a folder, you should select the folder in the Finder, then Option--drag the folder to where you'd like the alias to be. As a visual cue to let you know you're creating an alias, the mouse pointer will change to a curved arrow.

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