Four Ways To Quickly Find Your Applications

| Computing with Bifocals

There are four ways to quickly get to a specific application when you are using OS X Tiger.? I have mentioned a couple of these before, but I want to list all four at the same time so that all your options are before you.??

When you add applications to your Mac running OS X they should always be placed in your Applications folder on your hard drive.? If you place them somewhere else your Mac is not going to stop working, but you will certainly be complicating your life unnecessarily.?

Without a shortcut of some kind you have to open a finder window (File > New Finder Window).? Then find the Applications folder in the list on the left side of the window, and then click on the folder to open it and search for the specific application that you want.?

Your four shortcuts are:? put an application icon on your Dock, create an applications folder on your dock, use Spotlight as a search tool, or use recent items.

Put The Icon On Your Dock

This one is simple, but if you are really new to a Mac you may not know about it.? Icons on the Dock are "linked" to the actual item which is stored somewhere on your computer.? When you click on the Dock icon it sends a message to the application.? Therefore, to place an icon on the Dock you have to start where the application is stored - your Applications folder. ??? You can also add an application icon to the Dock by opening the application, then placing the pointer over its icon in the Dock, pressing the mouse button until a pop-up menu appears, and choosing "Keep in Dock".? If you keep your Dock on the bottom, put application icons to the left of the line in the Dock.? If you keep your Dock on the left or right, put application icons above the line.?

Create An Applications Folder On Your Dock

This happens to be my favorite shortcut to get to my applications.? To use this technique you create a special folder that is kept? to the right of the vertical line on the Dock.?

Find the original of your Applications Folder, not a copy or an alias.? You should be able to find the Applications Folder by simply double clicking on your hard drive icon and looking for it.

Drag the original icon for the Applications Folder to the Dock.? Again, you are using this method to "link" back to the original.

To open the folder, place your cursor over the folder and click once.? The folder will open.? If you wish, you can type the first letter of the application you want to launch and it becomes highlighted and you just click to open it.


Applications Folder Added To Dock

As a side note, the second folder seen in this illustration is a Documents Folder which I created following the same steps I used to create the Applications Folder.? I use it to quickly access items saved to the Documents Folder.? It helps keep my desktop uncluttered.

Use Spotlight

Click on Spotlight in the upper right corner of your screen.? When the small window opens, type in the first couple of letters of the application you want.? Chances are very good that your application will pop up as the top? entry in the list.? Click on it and the application will open and you are set to go.? In the following example I only had to type a "g" and Spotlight immediately placed GraphicConverter at the top of the list of options.


Using Spotlight To Access Applications

Recent Items List

Some long time users have lamented the loss of an OS 9 feature that allowed them to list all their applications under the Apple menu (found in the upper left corner of your screen.), but a version of that option is still available.? Under the Apple menu is an option to view "Recent Items."? One of the subheadings under that is "Applications" and you can set it to retain the last 50 applications you have opened.? The default is 10.? To change it to 50, you open System Preferences from the Apple menu and then click on "Appearance".? Find "Number of Recent Items" and use the menu to select the number you want.


Appearance System Preference Window
(Click on the thumbnail for a larger image)

A couple items of note:? The list will always automatically be alphabetized and your applications will only be listed once, no matter how many times you may have opened them recently, so it really can function as a working shortcut to your applications.

Smart Folders

Smart Folders are found all over OS X.? I use them extensively in iTunes and iPhoto.? They allow you to organize files by what they have in common, instead of by their location on your disk.? For instance, in iTunes all my Willie Nelson music is in a Smart Folder named Willie Nelson.? Any time I add a new song by Willie to my iTunes library, it also goes into my Willie Nelson Smart Folder because of the way I have it set up.? Then when I am in the mood to listen to Willie sing I just pull up the Smart Folder and start the music.? It is a great system.?

When you create a Smart Folder you are not moving items from their original location.? You are creating aliases of them.? Think of it as working the same way the items in the Dock work.? The icons in a Smart Folder "link" back to the original.? A single item can be in multiple Smart Folders.

Smart Folders can be used for ordinary tasks as well as for organizing music or photos.?? Only you can identify how they might help you, but I can give you an example from my own cluttered life.? I have 32 different folders on my computer that contain information related to our local Mac user group, CapMac.? Some of them are tucked inside other folders.? As you can imagine, it was getting hard to find things.? Finally in desperation I created a Smart Folder called CapMac so that when I have to do a search, at least I can do it in one place.

I also have a Smart Folder called "Letters".? I have letters scattered all through my files as well.?? With my Letters Smart Folder I can quickly view all the letters I have written and if I want to verify information or use copy and paste to create a new document I have what I need.? However, I do have to be careful to put the word "letter" in the title of each document.? If I donit, there is no trigger to send the letter to the Smart Folder.

Here are the steps to follow to create a Smart Folder:

  • In the Finder, choose File > New Smart Folder.
  • Choose your search criteria.?

Defining Search Criteria for a Smart Folder
(Click on the thumbnail for a larger image)
  • To search your filesi names, contents, and attributes for text, type in the search field. To limit where the Smart Folder searches, click one of the listed locations (Servers, Computer, Home, etc.), or click Others to choose another location. To search on a specific metadata attribute, use the pop-up menus.
  • Click Save, and choose the name and location for your Smart Folder. You can place a smart folder anywhere you can place a folder.

Saving A Smart Folder

If you do not want your Smart Folder to be be in the sidebar, deselect Add To Sidebar.

Thatis it for todayis tips.? I hope you find them useful.

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