Mac Monday: Go beyond the basic Info

05.26.2014

basic info

You use File > Get Info on Finder items, right? It opens the Info window for the selected item, which provides all sorts of…well, info. You’ll find the basics of kind, size, and created and modified dates, and you can change things like the item’s icon or label color. But press Control, and the menu command changes to Get Summary Info. Press Option, and you get Show Inspector (or Hide Inspector if it’s showing). What’s the difference?

Select three documents and choose File > Get Info to see three individual Info windows (left). Press the Control key to reveal the Get Summary Info menu command that opens a single aggregate window (top right). The Option key reveals the Show Inspector menu command, which opens the Inspector window (bottom right), which changes in response to what you select in the Finder.

If you have only a single item selected, there’s no difference between Get Info and Get Summary Info. But say you want to move several large files to a USB stick and you want to know if they’ll fit. There are other items in the folder, so checking the folder size won’t help.

Instead, select all the files and use the Control key to reveal Get Summary Info. Select this, and you get a single window, titled Multiple Item Info, that summarizes the group selection, including the files’ total size. You can also use this window to set some options on all the selected items at once. For example, you can change their label color, lock or unlock them, set the Open With application, and even change their icons. (How do you change the icon? Click the icon in the top of the Info window of a file whose icon you like, and choose Edit > Copy. Select the icon in another file’s Info window, and choose Edit > Paste.)

The Finder’s Inspector window is a hidden gem. Select an item, or multiple items. Hold Option to change the File menu’s Open command to Show Inspector. The window that appears when you select this seems, at first glance, to be a duplicate of the Info window. But a closer look reveals that it has a different title bar—thin and squared off instead of the standard height with rounded corners. And, sure enough, it behaves like a palette rather than a window, remaining on top of all other Finder windows. But that’s a minor convenience.

Its real power is that it changes to reflect whatever selection you make in your Finder window. So, you don’t have to open and close individual Info windows to inspect file and folder information.

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