How to Set Finder Advanced Preferences

How to Set Finder Advanced Preferences
Mac Tip #403, 23 September 2009

The Finder’s Advanced Preferences display or hide some filename extensions, control warnings and security when emptying the Trash and set which folders to search by default.

The Snow Leopard Finder has several Tabs in the Preferences. Here’s a look at how to set the Advanced settings.

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Finder Advanced preferences.

Finder Advanced preferences.

The Finder Preferences Advanced tab

To use the Finder Preferences Advanced tab:

  1. Switch to the Finder on your Mac and then choose Preferences… from the Finder menu.
  2. Once the Preferences window opens make sure you’re viewing the Advanced tab.
  3. Check or uncheck the boxes beside:
    • Show all filename extensions
    • Show warning before changing an extension
    • Show warning before emptying the Trash
    • Empty Trash securely
  4. Make a choice for When performing a search from the drop-down menu:
    • Search This Mac
    • Search the Current Folder
    • Use the Previous Search Scope

Show all filename extensions

Filename extensions are the part of the file’s name, such as .jpg (photos), .doc (MS Word files), .txt (text files), that show what type of file you’re dealing with.

Some Windows malware uses two extensions, such as file.png.exe and relies on users hiding the final extension. The user then thinks the file is a perfectly normal image, rather than a dangerous program.

The Mac isn’t so vulnerable at the moment.

Hiding filename extensions can lead to confusion, and even security problems. It’s a good idea to always show them.

In Snow Leopard the Show all filename extensions checkbox seems to control only some types of extensions. In my testing I’ve found I can hide or show .app and sometimes .template.

Show warning before changing an extension

Changing a file’s extension can be potentially confusing or even dangerous. The Mac can warn you when you change an extension.

Show warning before emptying the Trash

It can be very easy to accidentally trash a file and then empty the Trash. I prefer to keep the warning before emptying the Trash.

Files emptied from the Trash in the normal way have a good chance of being recovered if you realise your mistake immediately and then take no further action before seeking help.

Even if you do further work on the machine a file mistakenly emptied from the Trash may be recovered.

Empty Trash securely

If you Empty Trash securely any files that were in the Trash when you emptied it cannot be recovered. The Mac ‘shreds’ the files.

Search scope

When you perform a Search this parameter determines where the search takes place by default.

Open a Finder window and enter a search term in the search box at top right of the window. That search term may search just the Current Folder. To broaden the search choose Search This Mac.

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