How to Set Finder General Preferences

How to Set Finder General Preferences
Mac Tip #401, 09 September 2009

The Finder has Preferences, just like any other application. The General Preferences let you show and hide discs and devices, and set which folder appears when you open a New Finder Window.

The Snow Leopard Finder has several Tabs in the Preferences. Here’s a look at the General settings.

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Disks and Servers on the Desktop

Finder General Preferences.

Finder General Preferences

I like to keep my Mac’s desktop totally clean and tidy. I don’t even want to see an icon for my computer’s Hard Drive (HD) or icons for any DVDs, servers or iPods I may use.

Luckily the General tab of Finder Preferences allows me to make all of those things invisible.

To set the Finder Preferences switch to the Finder on your Mac and then choose Preferences… from the Finder menu.

Once the Preferences window opens make sure you’re viewing the General tab.

Check or uncheck the items you want to be displayed on your Desktop:

  • Hard disks
  • External disks
  • CDs, DVDs and iPods
  • Connected servers

New Finder windows

Any time you open a new Finder window it lists the contents of one of your folders. Which folder do you use most? It may be good to have a new Finder window always list that one.

For example, if I always refer to my demo folder then it’s a nuisance to have to wait while the Documents folder opens and then navigate to demo.

To set the folder that is displayed when you open a new Finder window choose a folder from the drop-down menu in the General tab of Finder Preferences.

As for the Spring-loaded folders item: I’ll explain that in a future Tip.

Do you have any comments on this Tip? Add them below.

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  1. Samuel Charles said:


    On my Finder window left panel i dont see “Devices”, “Shared”, “Places”, “Search For” etc instead i have some technical code namely LD8, LD9 etc. How to get this one correct.

  2. Miraz Jordan said:

    Horris, open up a Finder window then go to the View menu. Choose View Options.

    A window opens where you can adjust various settings. Two of the settings are icon size and text size.

    If you want to apply the new settings to all Finder windows click the Use as Defaults button at the bottom of the View Options window.

    I’m writing these instructions after looking at the View Options on Snow leopard, but they should be the same, or very similar, for OS 10.4.11.

  3. Horris Jasinski said:

    Hello there,
    My hardware: 24″ iMac, Core 2 Extreme, 2.8 GHz, OS 10.4.11.
    QUESTION: For my 73 years old eyes the size of the finder items are a bit to small.
    Is there perhapts a tool around that can help to enlarge a bit these denotions?

    Berlin, Germany

  4. Miraz Jordan said:

    There is some software that doesn’t work with Snow Leopard. I do know there’s a list somewhere (try Google) keeping track of what that software is.

    I haven;t had any particular problems, but then I aim to keep most of my software updated. I’m still using Photoshop CS3 and that seems to be working fine. 1Password requires a beta version at the moment.

    I haven’t noticed anything else yet that’s caused me problems.

  5. Carol Moncrief said:

    Hi Miraz,

    I was looking forward to updating to Snow Leopard. But I heard that some software does not work once it is installed. Have you experienced this?

  6. Miraz Jordan said:

    Thanks for the feedback, Ross.

    Because I don’t display anything on the Desktop as such I open the Desktop in a Finder window and then am able to easily select a thumb drive, server or external hard drive etc.

  7. Ross McCrostie said:

    The new format of MacTips is a vast improvement in visual presentation – a very good result.

    Tip #401 was nothing new for me but it did prompt me to ask why I continue to display my hard disk and external disks on the desktop. I’m trying out having them hidden, although its a bit clumsy when I want to insert and access a thumb drive. It is a pity a distinction is not made between a permanent and a temporary external disk.

Comments are closed.