Sunday, December 10, 2006

Configuring a simplified OS X machine: Simple Finder

Grooaan. I've muttered and complained about how almost-good OS X Simple Finder is -- but I never noticed the Finder menu option to 'Run Full Finder'. Here's the article:
Mac OS X 10.4 Help: Simplifying the desktop

You can simplify the desktop and Finder menus using Simple Finder. Simple Finder is a simplified version of the Mac OS X Finder with fewer menus and limited access to the items on your hard disk...

...users see only three folders in the Dock: Documents, My Applications, and Shared. Any documents they create are saved to their Documents folder. The applications they see in My Applications are the ones you select for them in Accounts preferences. They can also access items you place in the Shared folder.

... To get administrative access to the computer while this user is logged in to Simple Finder, you can choose Finder > Run Full Finder, and enter your name and password. (You'll be able to make changes only if your account has administrative privileges.) When you're done, choose Finder > Return to Simple Finder.
With admin access it's easy to extend Simple Finder by adding icons and folders to the desktop. Note Simple Finder does not actually block users from running software, it only blocks easy access to applications from the Finder. As well as icons put in shared folder, the admin user can switch to Full Finder and put icons on the desktop. [Update: Alas, they disappear when you switch to Simple Finder. Probably the biggest defect with Simple Finder is the inability to lay out icons on the desktop.]

I think Apple should include a brief mention of Simple Finder in their printed documentation. There was a story out recently that many Mac users are over 55. I think for quite a few folks over 70 Simple Finder can be a good introduction to the OS. If Apple really introduces remote maintenance with 10.5, and if they do a few tweaks to SF (including renaming it to something like 'Fast Finder'), and a bit of marketing, they'll have natural market with elder users and true computerphobes. (I happen to think one can make a good case for computerphobia btw.)

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