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Ask TUAW: The Finder, iTunes Artwork, and More

Mat Lu

It's Wednesday and that means it's time yet again for Ask TUAW, our weekly Q&A column. This week we'll be tackling questions about the Finder, finding tracks without artwork in iTunes, changing iPhoto file names, and more. As always, readers are most welcome to offer their own thoughts and comments, but especially to submit new questions to be taken up next week. And so without further ado, let's turn to this week's questions.

Brandie asks

If I edit a photo, how do I refresh the thumbnail that shows in Finder?

Automatic refresh was supposed to be fixed in Tiger, and although it's better than before, as you've no doubt noticed sometimes the Finder just doesn't quite do it (a refresh command was available in the Classic Mac OS, but it seems like Apple just refuses to add something analogous to Window's F5). Here are a couple of options for you. You could try this very simple AppleScript from a hint over at or you could try the Nudge contextual menu plugin from Rainer Brockerhoff (donation requested).

Hmbutler asks

I love cover flow on iTunes, however I have a bunch of songs that aren't recognized by the iTunes Store... Is there a program that or trick in itunes to make a playlist of songs w/ or w/out album art only.

This is possible using an AppleScript from Doug's AppleScripts called Tracks without Artwork to Playlist (donation requested). All you have to do is select the tracks you want to filter and this script will find all the tracks without artwork and add them to a new playlist called simply "No Art." You can then go down that playlist and add in the artwork however you like. Check out Doug's Managing Artwork section for more useful scripts along these lines.

ad6am asks

I'd like to know something about the bar at the top (what do you call that, anyways?) The application name, which is in bold, next to the apple button can apparently be changed to the application icon (16 x 16 px). I've seen this in a few screenshots. I don't know if this is a setting or not, but how can I also do this?

It is called the "menubar" and fellow reader Julian notes that this is a feature of FruitMenu from Unsanity Software. Keep in mind that FruitMenu is a haxie and uses Unsanity's somewhat controversial Application Enhancer framework, which allows you to "bend the rules," i.e. it is something of a hack. Some people refuse to run haxies for this reason, but I've been running them for a long time without any obvious problems.

In column view in the finder, is there a way to sort files by type or date etc. as in list view?

Unfortunately, no, from what I can tell from my research online it is not possible to sort by anything but name in the Finder while in column view. If you really want this feature, however, it is available in the Finder alternative, Path Finder, as you can see here. Path Finder is $34.95, but has a bunch of great features and I highly recommend it.

Alex asks

Is there a way (or a third party plugin) to change the actual file names of photos in iPhoto? I see that I can change the photo's title, but I want to be able to change the file name..

Basically, no and you probably don't really want to do this. Keep in mind that iPhoto (like iTunes) manages its own database of your image files. Therefore, if you go in manually (e.g. in the Finder) and start mucking around with file names there is a pretty high chance that you'll break something (i.e. the iPhoto database will no longer correspond to the files in your library). In short, this is a really bad idea if you don't want to break your database.

A much better choice would be to rename any files you need renamed before you import them into iPhoto either manually or with something like A Better Finder Rename or Name those Files!. If you just must rename a file, my suggestion is to export it from iPhoto, rename it in the Finder, and then re-import it.

All of this information is provided for your entertainment. Neither TUAW nor this author can be held responsible for any problems arising from the use of the information provided here.

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