Making the Most of Finder’s “Get Info” Pane

Imagine your files and folders sitting in a Finder window. It’s simple, and there’s no clutter. The only information you have about them is the name underneath. Of course we both know that there’s more to learn about each file. Much more!

Picture that all the “metadata” for a file or folder is engraved on it – unique – just like our finger prints. You’d need a magnifying glass to see it all. Let me introduce you to your magnifying glass: the “Get Info” Pane.

In this article I’ll introduce you to it, take you through a tour, and give some helpful hints along the way.

The Panel Itself

In its most simple form, the Get Info panel has 5 panes, each with its own theme of information. It can have more, however, depending on the type of file you are looking at. I’ll go over the basic set of panels, one-by-one.

The Top Of The Panel

At the very top in the name of the file or folder that you are inspecting. If you are looking at a file, you’ll see its size. If it’s a folder, the size of all the enclosed items is shown. Notice the icon on the left? This presents the opportunity to change it to something different.

To change an icon, copy the new icon onto the clipboard, go to get info, select the old icon, and hit paste. If done correctly, the icon should be in place.

Spotlight Comments

If you use Spotlight, you can tag each file or folder to make it turn up in your searches faster and more frequently. If you’re into tho latest move to minimalism, this can make Spotlight a more viable option.

Spotlight Comments

Spotlight Comments


This is where most of the “meat” lies. Contents can vary greatly, depending on the type of file it is, or whether or not it is a folder. Next I’ll brief you on what you can expect when observing your files (I’ve done my best to include most of the potential info panels, but it’s impossible to include all of them).


General Properties

General Properties

Kind: Shows the type of the file that you are looking at, if the type is proprietary, it shows the application that it belongs to.

Size: The amount of space that is occupied on your hard drive by the file or folder. If you are looking at a folder, you are seeing the total space taken up by all the enclosed items.

Where: This shows the path to the file or folder

Created: The birth date. The exact date and time that the item was created.

Modified: The last time something was changed about the file or folder.

Label: You can choose to have the name highlighted by a color of your choice in the Finder. It’s worth noting that these can be customized in the finder preferences.

Volumes Only

Format: This item appears when the item you are inspecting is a volume (a hard drive, flash drive, a mounted network drive, CD’s DVD’s etc.)

Capacity: Again, for volumes only. The amount of space that the drive has.

Used: The amount of space that has been taken up on the volume.

Available: The amount of space that has not been taken up by data.

Open in 32-bit mode: This appears when observing an application that, by default, opens in 32-bit.

Open using Rosseta: If the application is Universal, checking this box opens it in PowerPC mode with Rosseta.

Locked: By clicking on this checkbox, your document can no longer be changed until the box is unchecked.

Stationary Pad: With this checked, a copy of the file is opened, rather than the original file.

More Info

More Info

More Info

This panel is interesting. Depending on the filetype, it can be full of little tidbits, or bone dry. For example, a plain text file only shows the date and time it was last opened.

For other file types, the data shown can be more in depth – such as for OmniOutliner documents. They display far more detail; item count, unchecked count, item depth, and much more:

More Info, More Useful

More Info, More Useful

Name & Extension

A simple panel. This one doesn’t show very much information, and has two purposes. You can change the name of your file, and toggle whether or not a file extension is shown. Simple, but sometimes the simplest are the most helpful.

More Info

More Info

Open With

This pane appears if you are looking at a file. With it, you can change which application opens the file by default. This is the application that is used when you double click the file in the Finder.




If you are looking at a text file, a video file, or a PDF, you will see a preview of what the file holds. This is exactly what you see in Finder by default, when in icon mode. If you drag the preview icon, you can create a duplicate of it.

Sharing & Permissions

This pane adds a graphical interface for dealing with UNIX file permissions. In a nutshell, you can set if a certain user, or group of users can read a file and write a file.

You can also set the owner of the file, revert any changes to the permissions you have made, and, if it is a folder, apply your new permissions to all enclosed items.

Sharing & Permissions

Sharing & Permissions


Still not convinced by the power of Get Info? Here are a few ways that I’ve found the panel to come in really handy:

  • You don’t always need a complex disc scanning tool. Have a hunch that a file or folder is taking up too much space? Get info.
  • Need to send an image via email, but not sure if its too big? Get info.
  • Want to use a document as a template and always open a copy of it? Get info.
  • Want to boost the accuracy of Finder? You know it, Get info.

One Final Thing

With the column mode of finder, selecting a single file will reveal a new column with a brief sampling of what the info pane has to offer. On top of that, it can make you far more efficient by allowing you to navigate the file hierarchy with the arrow keys. Definitely give it a try!


The Get Info pane of your Mac is a useful way to learn more about your files and folders. Set permissions, change icons, lock a folder. Try it out, get the feel for it – you won’t regret it. A simple right-click will unlock a mass of new information about your files!