Written by: hexley on Monday January 21st 2008, 5:45 AM
The “View” menu in the Finder is one I find myself using often. In short, it controls the view of folders and files. Starting at the top, you have view as Icons, List, Columns, and Cover Flow.
Each of these selections is dependent on the current window you have selected, or in focus. To the best of my memory, the default, and what you are probably most familiar with is icon view. Let’s go through each view mode.
Icon view will show you your files and folders in icons. If you tend to work visually, and are able to notice files and folders based on their look, this may be the best view mode for you. It can fall short of you tend to have an abundance of files and folders in one area.
Icon view will generally show you a small picture of the file, or in the case of a folder, it will show you a small picture of the folder. As you can see by the picture below, icon view has a limited ability to show you a lot of data at one time. I also find the ordering and sorting of files and folders to be less than intuitive.
It may be just what you want, if it is, I suggest you select it, as there is no correct view mode, just what works best for your workflow.
List view is probably the most widely used view mode. List view will show you your files in a list, sorted alphabetically. You can clearly see the name of each folder or file, and a good deal of folders and files will fit in a relatively small view area.
In this mode you will see there are small triangles to the left of each folder. You can click these, and they will expand to show you the contents of that folder. Click the triangle again, and it will collapse to restore your folder back to a closed view.
As you can see, icons on folders are still legible, as are those on files. The files are forced into a strict alphabetical listing order, making it simple and quick to find files and folders at a glance. All this with a minimal amount of moving your mouse around looking for what you want.
Column view is something new as of OS X’s release, though has been in OS X since the earliest of pre-release versions.
I would call this a hybrid view. It incorporates list view, with the ability to expand the above-mentioned triangles into a separate pane off to the right. Some would call it file browsing. With each new file or folder you select, your view is traversed to the right, digging in a little deeper into your files.
Once people discover this method, I tend to notice they use it more often than not. I see users getting a little lost, as they do not know where they are in their files, as it tends to hide where you have been. Of course, if you have a large enough monitor, you can open up your window wide enough to see your entire file pat you have traversed.
Cover Flow is new to System 10.5 (Leopard). Cover flow will render a picture of your current files and folders, and allow you to “slideshow” through them. It has a lot of flare to it, but I am yet to find any truly useful ways in which to take advantage of this view.
If you have a ton of images dropped into a folder, it will be very useful. Why you would not put those images into iPhoto and have an even better means to manage your images is beyond me. However, that alone makes this view mode less useful.
It will prove highly useful when used in combination with “Smart Folders”, which will get an entire post at a later time. Aside from some very specific cases, I do not see users taking advantage of this view mode, and would even suggest you test it with caution, as it can be confusing to some.
The “Clean Up” menu has been around as long as I can remember. It will do it’s best to take a mess of scattered files and folders and make order to them. It only works to files and folders that are in icon view. It further tends to have a mind of it’s own.
Clean up is depended on a many settings. Depending on the file name, its current placement, and your grid preferences, will depends on where the files get moved to in a clean up effort. It further complicates things as there is a good chance that selecting it will perfectly stack a set of files right on top of each other, giving the illusion that some files have gone missing.
The “Arrange By” menu item is actually very handy. The default is to arrange by name, which means sort items by the alphabet. However, there are times when you may want to find the most resent file you worked on, sorting by date modified will do that for you. You can also sort by size, which can help you locate really large files, or really small files.
Hide/Show Path Bar
The “Path Bar” men item will change from either hide or show depending on how it was let set. If you look at any window in the Finder, near the bottom, you can see the path bar. If it is not enabled, turn it on now so you can see what I am talking about, or take a peek at the picture below.
The Path Bar will show you the entire file system path to the current file or folder you are working on. In my example, you can see I started at the hard drive, went into a users folder, and into the Library folder, down into Application Support, and finally into the Calculator folder.
Were it not for the Path Bar, I would have no idea where I was, at least not at a quick glance. As we move on and get into more technical details, you will learn the many other ways of finding out where you are on your computer, for now, the Path Bar is a great time saver. I say turn it, it takes little space, and comes in handy many times a day.
Hide Tool Bar
The “Tool Bar” is the big grey area with the buttons on the top of all windows. It is also the area off to the left that gives you quick access to different areas on your computer. It is also a large space waster to some.
Previous versions of OS X have never been able to set this preference correct. Try as you might, the Tool Bar would sometimes come back, or sometimes disappear. As a result, rather than waste time with it, I left it on. The image below shows you a folder window with the Tool Bar hidden. As you can see, much of the space that was wasted, is now saved, however, you have also lost some quick functionality as well.
Hide/Show Status Bar
With the Tool Bar hidden, you can also hide and show the “Status Bar”. The Status Bar is simply a small bit of text that shows how many files are in the window, and how many, if any, of those files are selected. It also reports how much drive space you have remaining.
The interesting thing is that if you have the Toolbar turned on, this data is shown at the bottom of all windows, whether you want it there or not. I tend to think it is a good thing to have on one-way or the other. Often you will have 50 files in a folder, and know you need to remove half of them. You select half, but are not certain. Seeing the window say “25 of 50 files selected” confirms that you have in fact selected just half.
The “View Options” are very cool. They are also rarely touched by users, though they should be. They are also darn confusing.
View options affect the window you currently have selected. It is not a global preference, even though I tend to think it should be. Open up your View Options, and you should see in the header it will show the word “Desktop”. Now if you open a new folder, you will see the title changes to the name of that new folder. This is a very subtle note to let you know that you are changing your selected folder, not the entire set of folders on your entire computer.
Within this palette there is icon size. Slide it around, and you will see your icons grow and shrink in size. Of course, this will only work in icon view, or assuming you are working on your Desktop files, it will always work. I tend to think the default size of the icons is too large, so I make them smaller.
People with vision issues may want to make them larger. Which is also a great reason why some people may like icon view over list view as I mentioned earlier.
Grid spacing is the next slider. This is new to System 10.5 (Leopard) as well, and greatly appreciated. I mentioned this with the “Clean Up” command a few paragraphs above. Imagine there is an invisible grid of squares on your computer. This slider defines the size of this grid, or the spaces between each grid item.
It is set to a rather large value, so in icon view, your icons will be very spaces apart. You can fit more icons, and more data into a single view by altering the grid to a smaller value. There is no set rule to an ideal setting; whatever works for you is perfect.
Clean Up also relies on this grid. It is this grid that the Clean Up command uses to decide, in part, where to shove your files and folders, in a futile attempt to clean up your icons for you.
The Text Size menu will let you change the size of the text that files and folders are labeled with. I find the default to be just about right. If you have Superman vision, make is smaller, if you have old man eyes like me, you may want to bump it up a little.
Label Position will move the file names you see on files and folders from their usual position on the bottom, to the right. Again, this only affects you if you are in icon view.
And finally, you can alter the background of a window, from a color, or even put in a custom picture of your own. A nice feature for sure, and I would not get rid of it if I could. I word of caution, the more you tweak, the more you tend to clutter, and the less real work you will get done as your modifications get in the way.
That was a quick run down of your view options. Keep in mind, the view options palette may not look exactly like the one in my screenshot above. It is very dynamic, it will change depending on if you are in list view, icon view, column view, or cover flow view.
Below are shots of each palette and how it changes depending on your view.
View Options when list view is selected:
View Options when icon view is selected:
View Options when cover flow view is selected:
View Options when column view is selected:
Hopefully this sheds some light on what the View menu in the Finder can do for you. We have one menu left, and then we can move onto other things. More than likely Safari, since that is probably the second most used application on OS X.
This is not at all to say we are done in the Finder, there is a lot more to be learned, I just need a break from pages on pages of writing about a few menus at the top of your screen.
Hope you are enjoying, if you are, leave a comment, it helps motivate me to keep on keeping on.
I remember in OSX 10.2.8 that you could set the desktop to always sort your icons “alphabetically.” I always thought this was useful when moving things around or downloading, etc., and finding things quickly. Unfortunately, it seems that OSX 10.5 has removed this feature. Has it been relocated somewhere else, or has Apple decided to eliminate it altogether.
Your help or comments would be greatly appreciated.
@Vance, of your only reason for an alpha sort on the Desktop is downloaded files, I would suggest you edit your preferences to change the download location, and then sort that folder. It seems cleaner this way to me to have a separate download folder.
In this way, when you are cleaning up download files, you will not accidentally delete a file you wanted to keep.
However, if while on the Desktop, you you go to “View Options” in the “View” menu, you can set it to “Arrange by Name” which should do what you are talking about.Comment by Scott Haneda 02.03.08 @ 8:59 AM
Any clue as to why my finder view resets to Icon after every restart/logout??? Seems only to do this on my main drive partition. I know a command-2 will easily reset it to list view, but it’s annoying to have to do this every day.
MacIntel (MacMini) running OS 10.4.11.
Didn’t seem to do this in OS 10.3… not ready to upgrade to 10.5 yet.
Thx!Comment by Kristin 03.04.08 @ 8:29 PM
@Kristin, I had the same issues in 10.4. I would find that setting it, closing the window, opening it again, setting it again, and then closing it one last time will lock it in place.
10.3 had it’s own quirks, 10.5 has a way to set this and define it more globally, but it is still not perfect.Comment by Scott Haneda 03.04.08 @ 11:50 PM
I tried that a couple of times, but no luck… guess Ill have to just live with command-2! ThanksComment by Kristin 03.21.08 @ 9:44 AM
I don’t understand why there are “no view options for the searching this mac” window. I’d like for my searches to show the file sizes of the results. Anyone have a solution? Thanks!Comment by CamCham 05.03.08 @ 8:02 PM
@CamCham, you seem to be correct, I can not determine any way to get size in the search area either.Comment by Scott Haneda 05.07.08 @ 5:12 AM
Yeah, it sucks.
I have to use HoudaSpot, but I’d like OS X to handle it naturally.
Anyone that know hows to manipulate OS X to do this, please post the solution! I’ll offer a 15$ paypal reward the first solution!
Hey you can actually search by size in Spotlight by adding the parameter by clicking the + arrow at the right hand topside of the window under save. Choose others and tick the size box inside that.
Fill in your parameters to define what size of file you are searching for.Comment by shaun 06.01.08 @ 6:06 AM
OK, why is it that the most rudimentary crap one needs to find an answer for in a hurry (rudimentary stuff being that which shouldn’t have needed an answer sought for in the first place) is the stuff that appears to be the most overlooked! …by many sources of info including your own…
The question: displaying of total/combined size of selected files in Finder – where and how?!?! The status line displays remaining hard drive space which is trivial at the moment when I need to know the total size of multiple files that I’m transferring or manipulating!
“Get Info” on groups of less than 11 selected files display multiple/individual “infos”, 11 or more selected files display fine in a single “info”?!?!Comment by Steve 07.01.08 @ 6:23 AM
@Steve, somewhere in our archives we covered this. If you select more than one file, then hold the option key, and go to the File menu, you will see the “get info” menu turns to “show inspector” which will then show you cumulative data for more than one file at a time.Comment by Scott Haneda 07.01.08 @ 3:31 PM
@Scott, Bravo Scott! Creds to y’all! This was a nagging point for me which came to a head the other evening. A “once power user” myself, this was a simple point that I had not pursued resolution for until now.
Your response was exactly what was needed and the unexpected promptness of reply, a pleasant surprise.
The nature of my time constraints while perusing your sites pages lent itself to frustration. I did read the main bodies of your blogs/pages, as they were pointed to via a search of “combined file size” and “multiple file size” etc, and I did also read most of the questions/responses as well. However, you are correct, you had answered this matter in a response that I had missed (Part 3 of this Finder series/macrussian). Yes, I am in agreement with what was mentioned.
The simplest solution, to me, is obviously the inclusion of a choice in the configuration of view options for the status line. Done. This is indeed rudimentary stuff, but then, as we agree, OSX/Mac is great but admittedly not perfect… but then, I guess that’s what feedback and progressive design is all about.
While I’m at it… can you specify what the “Calculate all sizes” choice relates to (found in the View Options when either List or Coverflow views are selected, as above)?
One final comment. While far from a newbie myself, sometimes it is sites like yours here, Scott, that users of varying experience goto to get an answer simply and quickly. Bravo. Further, while sifting through the various questions and responses on various pages here, it is clear that your efforts are effective and appreciated (oh, to wish for such a perfect world, lol) and there are no signs of any egos involved here.
Keep it up Scott!Comment by Steve 07.02.08 @ 1:44 AM
This is the best Mac tutorial I’ve ever encountered!
Why are you being so pretentious? You suggested a barely helpful solution but still didn’t solve the problem. You didn’t answer the question of how to add a sort by SIZE column to the search results.
I don’t care to find out the size of the files one by one going through hundreds of files, I want to see what is the largest file quickly.
On my PC this was a breeze.
Every day I find another reason to hate this $5,000 piece of dung Mac Pro and OS.
And it’s still slower than my $1000 PC for many rudimentary tasks.Comment by Joseph 11.18.08 @ 10:55 PM
This is an outstanding tutorial. Keep it up. Looking forward to your updates. I’m a new user and can use all the help i can get. A very classy web site.Comment by Taras Chichak 01.02.09 @ 7:02 PM
Cheers for doing this, only had my mac for 1 week and this site is my tutor!Comment by the kid 02.19.09 @ 12:45 PM
I also desperately want to be able to sort results (Spotlight or Find) according to size, or what in previous OS X versions was called “parent” folder!! Searching was far more convenient in/up to OS 10.3! …..And whatever happened to “kind/file” is or IS NOT??? This was the easiest fastest way to filter unwanted file types in searches.Comment by Leo 09.22.09 @ 7:50 AM
@Leo, when you are in a Spotlight search results window, there is a small “plus” icon you can click on. This will allow you to add more conditions, such as “size is greater/less than x”, and “kind is of type x”, etc etc. You can add as many as you like, and even save this result for quick access. There is also an “other” addition, that allows you to add even more criteria.
Sadly, the one think you still can not do is sort by size, at least, not in Leopard, but I hear Snow Leopard does fix that issue.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.22.09 @ 12:17 PM
Thanks, Scott. I kindda knew that already. But thanks! I think what some of us (call us “lazy”) miss from the old [Mac] search engine, was to be able to (quickly! no +xtra criteria needed!!) sort, say, 5,000 file results from largest to smallest (and viceversa), and ALSO quickly group them by location/parent folder (remember the good ol’ OS 10.3??). To me the size of a file (generally a picture, tiff or jpeg) is key because it tells me why/for what purpose I created that file: is it for printing or is it for e-mailing. Another example: I have created 20 tiffs for printing, and I have placed them in the same folder/parent which I have named “to-print-today”. It used (USED!) to be that a quick Command+F for “Tiff/Created today” allowed me to double check all those 20 files were in the right place. Now, yes, I can arrive at the same results using Spotlight + the gazillion options it has, but then I have to, one by one, click on each file to see its location at the bottom of the Search window. BUMMER!! ……..Hey, no biggie. We will survive …right??Comment by Leo 09.23.09 @ 9:39 AM
@Leo. I hear ya. All I can offer is that Snow should solve this, and that I have just changed workflow to accommodate the problems you run into.
Any new project I work on will be sloppily saved to the Desktop, or to a specific folder. In some way, I limit the scope of the work area to an area that will represent just the project I am working on.
Then I can use any normal finder window to sort by kind, size, name, whatever I want. This gets me out of using spotlight, as I know there is no need to search the entire system.
If you want to make it a little simpler, create a smart folder that is at the least limited to a specific set of areas in which you work. That speeds it up shows you a much more condensed list. You can also limit things like gif’s that are smaller than a certain byte size, so you do not get all the little icons that make up OS X’s display.
From there, I will as you do, look at the path in the bottom of the window. However, I usually just select the file, and hit command-R which will take me to that file. Unfortunately, it replaced the spotlight window, and does not inspire a new window, which means I have to start the search over again.
However, it does get me into a Finder window, where I can do my sorting as I want. I mostly do not use spotlight. I use it to find all files greater than 10MB, so I know which junk I left laying around that may need to be deleted.
Outside of that, I just developed a workflow that keeps my files in a place where I know they all are, so I need not use a broken tool to try to find them.
About all I can solidly suggest, is update to Snow Leopard, as these issues are apparently solved from what I have read.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.23.09 @ 12:19 PM
“…Unfortunately, it replaced the spotlight window, and does not inspire a new window, which means I have to start the search over again.” >Yes, I noticed this too. Totally inconvenient. BUT (and I’m quite sure you already realized this) you can go back to your –starting– Search/Spotlight window by clicking on the back-forward little triangles (the ‘back’ triangle in this case, of course). ……HEY, Scott, GREAT help!!! I think I’ll use your Workflow method. ….I’ll check with my Mac retailer on the possibility they might have tweaked things a bit to our ‘File-searching’ benefit with SnowLeopard.Comment by Leo 09.24.09 @ 2:45 AM
@Leo, I did just discover something nice.
1) Do a search in a finder window, and get your list of files
2) Instead of command-R to reveal, press command-uparrow
This will reveal the files container window, and also leave the search window intact.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.26.09 @ 2:34 PM
Excellent! Thanks!! ….I think it’s a good time to get one of those “Bibles” with tons of shortcuts and tricks. /LComment by Leo 09.28.09 @ 3:41 AM
Search+Modified acting funny……
Is it just me (bug??), or has this happened to you too:
When I do a Search using “Modified Today” as criteria, yes, I get some results (including the .jpgs I have Created/Modified this day). But as soon as I add another line of criteria, namely “Images”/ namely “jpg” …….guess what? Everything disappears!!! ALL files! Resulting in a blank/empty Search window. ?????
@Leo, I can not replicate that, and have no trouble getting results of just files that were made today, of type jpg for example. Try not using the “today” keyword, as there may be some bearing on what “today” really means. It could depend on your location, time zone, etc.
Give the other time based options a try, like, “was modified in the last 24 hours”, or whatever criteria you want.
I personally just never use it, If I need to find something from a few years ago, and I can only remember a fragment of what was said inside a document, it may come in handy. But then again, aside from emails, which I just search in the email application, file based data is pretty easy for me to locate.
For example, I worked on a Web site for a client a few years back, I would just go to my home folder then Documents -> Clients Done -> Company Name -> Project Name and within there would be some organizational structure.
Maybe you can explain your workflow in more detail, as what it is you are working on. If I were working on 10 projects at once, I would have 10 folders, each would contain that projects data, and only that projects data. I can certainly get to the files I need to get to a lot faster by organizing them ahead of time than I would ever get to them by letting Spotlight filter through an entire hard drives worth of data.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.28.09 @ 4:18 PM
Using command-f searching my mac, I can no longer sort by “date created”. It’s not a view option. Is there a fix for this?Comment by Aileen 11.19.09 @ 11:16 PM
@Aileen, I believe Snow Leapard has solved the adding of more columns for sorting within SpotLight results.
Perhaps the “Last Opened” Column is what you are looking for, or close enough? It has been a long standing grievance that sort options for found results are less ideal ideal on OS X.
You can sort of get around it and add a few more sort columns, by selecting “Show View Options” In the Finder menu, while selected on a file, setting on the “Date Created” and “Date Modified”, then setting that as a default for “Use as Defaults”.
This will propagate down to Spotlight find windows.Comment by Scott Haneda 11.21.09 @ 5:13 AM
bro, the best and easiest and informative page i’ve read. thanks.Comment by jack 04.06.10 @ 10:05 PM
Personally the one Finder feature I loathe with contempt it is the “View Options” for there is no way to lock it, and if you do quick moves on the track pad, you icons shrink or mushroom in size and throws off everything you doing, including messing up the desktop. If Apple does anything to update the “view” feature, it has to be to provide the user a global setting that the user can lock, and preferably in the System Preferences panels. This is a useless and frustration feature as it currently exists.Comment by Sam 08.03.10 @ 8:49 PM
I’ve had Macs for years, and my MacBook Pro for a while too, but I am finding your notes/hints very helpful: well-written, easily understood. Thanks! (Came here when I googled for some info and stayed to learn more.)Comment by Kate Anne 11.25.10 @ 10:22 PM
Been a Mac user forever, but bought a new one with the (new to me) Leopard OS (and free Lion!) – this site is wicked helpful!! (From Boston!)Comment by Michael 08.29.11 @ 2:45 PM
Hi! I wonder if this is a bug or I’m just not doing something properly.
When I’m in column mode and want to look at my pictures in icon mode, I switch over and sometimes, I’d get very small icons, 8 to a row, say.
So I enlarge them until they’re big enough to see and only 4 fit to my screen. The remaining 4 is off-screen so I need to scroll both vertically and horizontally.
Maybe this is the way it is but, I’ve had situations where, if I change the size at the right time, I only get 4 icons across and it’s perfect.
Now – here’s the weird part – if I make them smaller again, the number of items in each row increases so a row fills the entire width of the screen (with 8 icons, say) but, if I make them larger once again, the number of items in each row does not decrease and I have to scroll horizontally again.
Is there a way to have the number of items in icon mode both decrease (with larger icons) as well as increase (with smaller icons) so that each row has just enough icons to fill the width of the screen and no more (so I would’ve have to scroll horizontally)?
Thanks for any help!Comment by James 09.15.11 @ 2:43 PM
( I believe this is a bug, or at least intended behavior on Apple’s part that the don’t care enough about at this time to resolve. )
Yes, this is an issue I run into all the time when I want to look at a folder of pics. If I set it to icon view with large icons, there is a good chance that an entire row, more more, will be off the screen. I can make the Finder window as large as possible, yet there will always be a row or more that I have to scroll left and right in order to see.
As you have found, it is rather random as to what determines how many will be chopped off and under what conditions.
I usually will just select all the items, press the spacebar, and use QuickLook to take a peek at my images. It has some advantages in that you can view them as a slideshow. The one disadvantage is that you can’t easily go from looking at one file to opening it right away. However, I rarely need to do this as I am in a mental mode in which I just wish to view files.
I know of no way to solve this, aside form perhaps an update to Lion 10.7, though I can’t personally confirm that will fix it either, as I have not had a need to test it out yet and this computer is not running Lion.
Hope that helps.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.19.11 @ 1:11 AM