Thinking aloud on the new Finder

by Giles Turnbull

Do you like side-scrolling?

Hmm. Me neither.

I don’t expect we’re going to make much use of CoverFlow in the new Leopard Finder, then.


2007-06-12 13:55:37
I agree that I don't use Cover Fow much in iTunes, and certainly wouldn't use it to search for a file. But I may use cover flow to browse search results from Spotlight, if it's possible.
2007-06-12 14:01:42
Since you can use the arrow keys or (if you have a Mighty Mouse like me) the scroll ball rather than the bar, I don't think side-scrolling is *that* big of a hassle.

Eye candy? Yeah, sure. But it seems like the "killer feature" of the new Finder might be the ability to view file contents without opening applications, thus saving even more time.

Besides, don't you think the spatial metaphor breaks down naturally as the files in the metaphorical file cabinet grow into the tens of thousands?

2007-06-12 15:00:21
For researchers, like myself, who use hundreds of PDFs, CoverFlow is going to be fantastic. I'm sorry - I love it!
2007-06-12 15:33:42
How do you save/organise your pdf files.... One big folder within Documents? Guilty - Spotlight does a so so job reducing the number of possibilities when I'm trying to locate one, but cover flow might just let me find the right file from what's left much more quickly.

After all, the file names most of the pdf's I download have little or no relevance to their contents......

2007-06-12 15:38:07
Giles has a point, and spk has a point. If you're looking for something you know is there somewhere, then search is better than leafing through a humongous list; Quicksilver, Spotlight, Gmail, that's what they do.
If you're looking for inspiration, then eyeballing the eye candy in iTunes, or peeking at the file contents in a big screen CoverFlow in Finder, is better than search when you might not know exactly what you're searching for.
P.S. Giles - I think you meant "its" when you used "it's"... :)
2007-06-12 15:41:06
...but for PDFs, I've been tinkering with Yep! It really is very nice. (
2007-06-12 16:11:25
I am looking forward to the new finder, especially Cover Flow.

As an art/creative director using mostly freelance creative support, I have thousands of files from dozens of designers, copyrighters, content owners, photographers, etc, covering scores of projects. I do well in organizing data by project with typical folders, but I spend/waste so much time opening nested files for quick looks.

Bottom line: Cover Flow will save me time. Sure, I may not need it for every search, but why would I not want to have the option? Anything to help increase productivity without adding complication is a welcome addition. Regarding the demo, I could instantly reflect on my situation and understand how it will benefit me.

2007-06-12 16:57:39
My Finder wish list is modest. I'm happy when the sort order in list view actually keeps up-to-date. At the moment nothing is worse than having a list view sorted by modification date and double clicking an item. You can't be sure which file is actually opened :-(.

Also, the ability to 'zoom' Finder windows in icon view to the _correct_ size would be sweet. OS 7 could do this. Tiger often just alternates between too small and too large (I'm using the classic zoom metaphor, not the totally wrong OS X 'maximize').

And I want to be able to determine the view mode of new windows. That should have been possible from day one, but sometimes even Apple doesn't 'get' it.

It's the simple things that (can) make the Finder great. Fingers crossed...

PS. Resizing this text field in Safari 3 is GREAT!!

2007-06-12 18:01:36
In iTunes, I generally don't use CoverFlow as there are too many albums without artwork (I guess I could use a 3rd party app to try to find some of the missing artwork, but never get around to doing so). So using CoverFlow to browse a set of largely speaking generic album covers, is pretty pointless.

For his demo, QuickLook and CoverFlow did a great job of whizzing through various movies / images and PDF files.

For those of us who are developers (or I guess writers Giles, the example will work for 'plain' text files certainly), I can't help but think that even if QuickLook plugins are provided by Xcode / TextMate (insert favourite editor here... and don't expect emacs/vi/pico etc. to provide QuickLook plugins!), you'd have a hard job differentiating _this_ C file from _this_ C file, based on a preview alone. In which case, depending on the type of documents you work with, the new CoverFlow might be pretty useless to you.

2007-06-12 19:24:20
TheBoyKen hit it on the head. It's all what files you use. Text-based documents like source code and Word documents will not gain much of an advantage from CoverFlow. Graphical documents, like pictures or Pages brochures, however, will. It's all based on what you're looking for.

Besides, is side-scrolling *really* that painful if you have a side-scroll mouse like the Mighty Mouse?

2007-06-12 19:57:53
Cover Flow is most definitely eye candy, but there is nothing wrong with eye candy if it does not hinder the experience, and it is not entirely useless. As tycho pointed out, in the event that you aren't totally sure what you are looking for being able to leaf through such rich previews will be a very useful tool. In the same way, I use it in iTunes usually when I am not sure what I want to listen to, and the pretty album covers can remind me what music I have. And as Curtis said, I'd much rather have the option then not have it.

My biggest problem with Cover Flow is that it frequently can not keep up with the speed at which I scroll. From the demo it seemed as if Steve was purposely keeping his speed down, but hopefully we'll see some improvement in this area.

2007-06-12 23:35:55
cover flow sucks
2007-06-12 23:59:57
Yeah, I use the arrow keys and the scroll ball, as well as typing the first letter or two of what I'm looking for.

I think Cover Flow will be useful to give larger sized icons for folders full of digital photos.

2007-06-13 01:44:59
I think it became useful and comfortable with iPhone and future multitouch devices like tablets...
Simon Hibbs
2007-06-13 01:54:14
It's horses for courses. I generaly use VNC instead of Front Row, but my eldest daughter uses it to watch movies and Teletubbies videos. She's 3. Because it shwos previes of the mopvies she doesn't need to be able to read the names of the videos. The same would apply to CoverFlow.

3 Year olds asside, CoverFlow will be very useful and intuitive for some users some of the time, and since they already have the code, it makes sense to use it this way.

2007-06-13 02:09:57
tycho - ahem, thanks for spotting my error
2007-06-13 06:08:50
I don't believe in side-scrolling when you have masses of data.. A decent Spotlight UI would be much more efficient if you have thousands of pdf or whatever files. that's what we have built at iNuron. I believe our screenshot examples (follow my name below) demonstrate what an efficient Spotlight interface could look like (apart from our dark background ;-))..

With this solution you also go way beyond 'Back to My Mac'...

Ryan M
2007-06-13 06:53:24
I had similar thoughts. I don't think Cover Flow is going to take off, but some people will use it. I think Steve really missed an opportunity to show off what I perceive to be one of the best new features of Leopard -- Quick View. He was scrolling through Cover Flow, la dee da, and then says, "Hey, you can even use Quick View on these GIGANTIC LIVE PREVIEWS of your files." What the heck!? Why would I use Quick View there? I would use it, A LOT, in column view, in list view, and in icon view, but probably never in Cover Flow since I'm already looking at a relatively decent size live view of the file. Cover Flow does most of what Quick View does -- pagination, preview video, etc. If you can't tell I'm really looking forward to Quick View. I think it's going to save me a lot of time.
2007-06-13 09:10:10
> "Spatial organization has been disappearing from the moment OS X was first released"

Spatial organisation is OK when you have few items (less than 20 or so?). Nowadays I have very few folders with less than 20 items in; I could perhaps reorganize, breaking them up, but I'll be spending more time on micro-organising. I hardly use the icon view; in fact, I'm often a little annoyed when a new window opens in icon view. Ever tried organising the /Applications folder.

For the visually oriented people -- which includes me -- CoverFlow might be really useful. Indeed, it's usefulness might not be so huge with many look-alike documents, but suppose you could choose a particular page as the 'front page', as you can do with movies -- that would help.

To be seen...

2007-06-13 11:01:47
coverflow makes more sense when used with spotlight then just by itself. once spotlight narrows the search down to a handful a files, coverflow and quicklook helps get to that one file.
2007-06-13 11:27:39
I think you may be missing the point - cognitive scientists tells us that our mind works both spatially and temporally. Coverflow is going to be great for folks looking for documents based on time. I know of folks who, with the advent of Spotlight, don't both to file stuff beyond folders for month or year. They can then either find the document by remembering about when it was (most of what we retrieve is the recent stuff) or with a Spotlight search. I'm looking forward to using Coverflow to quickly move forward and back in time and Quicklook to preview and make sure I found the right document.
2007-06-13 14:35:46
Oh yes I really like Cover Flow. I use it a lot in iTunes and I cannot wait for having it in Finder. I really would like to have it in Spaces too. Yes, Steve, well done!
2007-06-14 15:53:50
that kinda stuff is just asking for a touch interface
2007-06-15 08:25:54
I'm not terribly impressed with coverflow for a finder view, but I have to say since I started playing with it, Stacks rocks on toast. I throw my user folder and my main drive in the dock and I can navigate to just about anything with three click.

2007-06-20 05:40:51
I'm hoping with you that Spotlight results window is much accessible and usable.
2007-06-20 20:34:02
use CoverFlow all the time in iTunes. So I'll likely use it in the new Finder. My workflow in the Finder will be to Spotlight the file I won't, use Coverflow to skim the results, and if needed to use Quick Look to confirm this is the file I was looking for.

I don't understand the issue with side-scrolling. There's an obvious metaphor for CoverFlow - a book or magazine. All humans side scroll publications to read them.

2007-06-23 23:20:55
I have to say that your article sounds a bit like trolling bait (for responses) to me.

The sky is not falling. In Leopard you will have four different views available. You are free to mix and match them at will. And that is exactly how it should be used. A 'list' has its purpose and cover flow has its purpose too.

Coverflow will be a great addition to the finder. I am chomping-at-the-bit to put it to good use. I have been desiring such functionality for certain folders for some time. While looking for existing documents that I need to browse to know which one I want to use, coverflow will be da'bomb. It is basically a continuous view of icon view, enlarged using proper document representation, even if the generating program did not generate a representation icon. But even better you can view the multiple pages of a document and execute the sound or movie to-boot. This is so much better than the dreaded (for me) column view.

Just to let you know, my system is organized and not a black-hole of bits & bytes. That probably makes my day to day OS use more peaceful than some.

And how do you make the claim that OSX is becoming less spatial? It is more spatial than ever. Exposé & spaces definitely add to the spatial orientation of the user experience and you still have icon view in separate windows if you like, all day long.

And as for side scrolling--what could be easier (I know--cognitive think scrolling?) It is certainly not more difficult. But I do use a side scrolling mouse.

And a comment to the poster that says that Tiger finder only maximizes windows... Not on any of my systems. Finder zooms to the correct size unless I have too many items to fit in the screen size. Maybe I don't understand your comment.

2007-06-24 20:58:45
I'm looking forward to the Cover Flow Finder in a big way. It's certainly in the running for my favorite new Leopard feature (along with Spaces and Stacks). I'm a graphic artist, so most of the files I use daily are images and PDFs. As it is now, I view most of my windows in icon mode, with full-size (128px) icons. Quick Look is going to be a godsend, too.

On a separate subject, you should really give Cover Flow in iTunes a chance. It's a great way to view your music. It's easy to stumble upon the perfect tune, which you never would have found with a search alone. You can also view your search results in Cover Flow mode, so best of both worlds. (This assumes, of course, that most of your music has corresponding album artwork, because otherwise, Cover Flow is a drag.)

2007-06-25 04:44:17
I may be stuck in 10.3.9 forever. I like the FIND we had from forever up until 10.4 took it away. If Spotlight was a piece of hardware I'd rip it out and cut off the connector so nobody could put it back. I don't need a 5 GigaByte file (yes the index file on my hard drive was 5 GB with Spotlight)taking up space on my hard Drive to make a search happen 2 seconds quicker
2007-06-27 03:00:33
Having experienced coverflow in the new finder I find that it is extremely useful for browsing documents, and yes, you can spotlight search in coverflow. As spk stated, it is fantastic for browing your library of PDF docs and more. It is only once you sit down and use the new OS that you can really appreciate what apple have done.
2007-06-28 09:19:33
I wonder if it's possible to hack the Finder to force it to be more spatial. So far, the only alternatives to the Finder I've seen are that 'two-pane' style I never liked or understood the reason for, and the 'do-absolutely-everything-in-one-window' approach of Path Finder.
I'd love to see someone take a 'everything-in-its-own-unique-window' approach, i.e. recreate the classic Finder. To me, this would entail not only making every folder open in a new window, but also having each window remember its size and position, no matter where it was opened from. Windows should also remember the size of icons and text individually, as well as the view (icon or list, as column view really doesn't make any sense in a spatial file manager, except possibly for the preview column (but then it would have to be a weird hybrid of list and column view to avoid breaking the spatial metaphor))