OS X: Dock Functions for Finder and Trash

You guys know me by now, right? I practically live for clicking around and holding down modifier keys to see what happens. You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m really, really not, which means that Saturday nights at Chez Holt are rather dull affairs.

The upside, though, is that I sometimes find cool things to share with you. Let’s ignore the fact that my social skills have dwindled to pretty much nothing on a scale of, well—an imaginary scale that measures social skills. And with that soul-scarring realization, we’ll move on to today’s Quick Tip. 

The first thing I wanna go over is relaunching the Finder from its Dock icon. You’ll want to employ this trick if things just don’t seem to be working right in the Finder; if (for example) you’re seeing lots of spinning beach balls when you’re trying to organize files, or if your Mac gets irrevocably stuck trying to copy a large amount of stuff, this is a good troubleshooting step to take.

Of course, you can always press Command-Option-Escape to relaunch the Finder if you want to…

…but the method below is a bit easier to remember for some folks, I think. 

So as you may be aware, if you click and hold (or right-click) on any Dock icon, you’ll get a contextual menu with options for interacting with that item. In Finder’s case, here’s what you’ll see:

Some of that is pretty handy, especially if you don’t enjoy keyboard shortcuts. I particularly like using the "Go to Folder" command from there. Here’s the thing about restarting a misbehaving Finder from the Dock, though—if the operating system thinks that Finder’s not doing well, you’ll automatically see the "Relaunch" command when you invoke that same contextual menu.

But sometimes, you know that Finder’s unhappy before OS X has even figured out it has a problem. So to force "Relaunch" to appear there, just hold down Option first before you touch the Dock, and then with that key held down, click and hold on the Finder icon. That’ll change the bottom command to "Relaunch," and you’re done. Easy!

The second thing we'll cover is what neat tricks you can do with the Trash icon. First, pressing and holding on it will give you the choice to empty the Trash.

However, if you hold down the Command key while you’ve got that menu open, “Empty Trash” will switch to “Secure Empty Trash.” 

If you're not familiar with "Secure Empty Trash" (which is also available under the Finder menu), you should know that it's a great precautionary step to take if the files you've put in your Trash are sensitive. "Secure Empty Trash" will immediately overwrite those files, meaning that no one could use a recovery program to get them back. 

Well, that's all I've got, folks, so it's time for me to return to my regular schedule of clicking around on stuff. Gonna be a party in here tonight!