Home : Software Terms : Finder Definition


The Finder is the desktop interface of Macintosh computers. It allows users to move, copy, delete, and open files, navigate through folders, and move windows around the desktop. The Finder loads automatically when the computer starts up and is always running in the background.

While the Finder is a core component of the Mac OS, it is technically an application. This means users can select the Finder from a list of active applications, either using the Dock or the Command-Tab shortcut. For example, a user may switch to the Finder so he can open a window and browse to a specific file he wants to open. Once the user finds the file, he can open it by double-clicking the icon. Since the Finder is always running in the background, it cannot be quit like other applications. Instead, the Finder can only be relaunched, which simply restarts the application.

The Finder has been part of the Mac OS GUI since its inception and has gradually evolved throughout the years. It has always included a menu bar, desktop, icons, and windows, but now has several additional features as well. For example, the current Finder in Mac OS X includes the Dock for easy access to applications and files, an advanced search feature, and Quick Look technology, which allows many types of documents to be viewed directly in the Finder. The Finder windows now include a sidebar, with shortcuts to disks and folders, and support several viewing options, including Cover Flow, which allows users to flip through previews of documents.

The Finder is a fundamental part of the Macintosh operating system and serves as the primary interface between the user and the Mac. Therefore, if you use a Mac, it may be a good idea to browse through the Finder's menu options and familiarize yourself with all the features the Finder has to offer.

Updated: December 2, 2009

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