How to use the dynamic Finder file inspector to display summary info about multiple Mac items

Finder file inspector

You can quickly get information about an item on your Mac by selecting a file, folder or disk and choosing Get Info from the contextual menu. But did you know that you can make the Get Info command display a summary of information about multiple items in a consolidated floating palette window which automatically refreshes as you select different files, folders or disks in the Finder? Follow along with our step-by-step tutorial to learn how to browse information about your Mac files more efficiently with this dynamic Finder file inspector.

Get Info for the masses

macOS offers several different ways to quickly get information about the files, folders or disks attached to your Mac. The most common method involves selecting one or more items in the Finder, right-clicking the selection and choosing the option Get Info from the menu.

Alternatively, press the Command – I shortcut on the keyboard.

Finder Get Info
Get Info statically displays underlying metadata for the selected files

By default, the feature opens a standard macOS window for each of the selected items. For instance, executing the command on four selected files on the desktop will open four different Get Info windows, one for each selection, which can easily clutter the desktop.

TUTORIAL: How to view image metadata in Photos for Mac

Finder file inspector
The Get Info command opens a new window for each selected item

You can override that behavior with a modifier key to display a summary of information for multiple files in a single Get Info window — simply select multiple items in the Finder, hold down the Control key and choose the option File → Get Summary Info from the menu.

Alternatively, press the keyboard shortcut Control – Command – I.

Finder file inspector
You can use Get Info to change a file’s metadata

Whether you prefer seeing a separate Get Info window for every selected item or a quick summary of of multiple items, this feature will get the job done by statically displaying any underlying metadata for whatever was selected when you invoked the Get Info command.

Show Inspector for power users

As noted by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, the Get Info window wasn’t designed to refresh its content automatically as the user selects different items in the Finder.

TUTORIAL: 4 different ways to make item selections on your Mac

Thankfully, macOS provides a more powerful Get Info command which utilizes macOS’s dynamic file inspector. Hidden behind yet another productivity modifier key, this isn’t something average users could easily figure out on their own or discover by poking around the system.

Finder file inspector
Get Info works on files, folders and disks

Follow along with our step-by-step tutorial to learn how to browse information about your Mac files, folders and disks more efficiently with the dynamic Finder file inspector.

How to use the dynamic Finder file inspector

Follow the steps included right ahead to learn how to quickly get summary information for multiple Mac files, folders or disks selected in the Finder.

1) Open a new Finder window by clicking the Finder icon in the Dock.

Alternatively, click the desktop to activate the Finder, then click the File menu and choose New Finder Window or press the keyboard combination Command – N.

2) Select multiple items in the Finder window.

These may include your photos, videos, documents and any other files that you want included in your selection, such as folders and any disks attached to the computer.

3) Now right-click the selection to reveal the contextual menu, then hold down the Option key.

Finder file inspector

Doing so changes Get Info to Show Inspector — choose it to display a summary of the items.

You can also hold down the Option key when clicking the Finder’s File menu to choose that option from there. Alternatively, press the shortcut Command – Option – I on the keyboard.

4) You will now see a floating window palette which displays summary information for all of the selected Finder items, including things like the number of items in the selection, their total size, file permissions, the default app to open the selected file type and so forth.

Finder file inspector
Unlike the regular Get Info window, the Finder inspector is a dynamic floating palette window

The key takeaway is that this Finder inspector can be kept open while you adjust the selection. It’ll auto-update group summary information to reflect your added/removed items.

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Keep in mind that changing any piece of information in the Show Inspector window, such as the default app to open these file types or extension, will change that piece of information for all of the items included in the selection. And if your selection is mixed, you may not be allowed to update certain metadata via Get Info or the Finder’s file inspector.

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