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Get the most out of Finder views

Kirk McElhearn | March 3, 2016
You can save time by learning when to use Icon, List, Column, or Cover Flow view.

Likewise, you might use the Arrange By option in different ways depending on a folder's contents. Open your Downloads folder, choose View Options, and then select Date Modified from the Arrange By menu to see the most recent files at the top left corner of the folder. In a folder containing files you want to copy to an external drive, you might choose Arrange By Size to see the largest files first, so you can choose which ones you can fit on the disk.

Compact List View

If Icon View were the only choice for organizing files, many Mac users would be lost. Lots of people prefer the more compact List View (View > As List or Command-2). In this view, you see file names, dates (when the files were either modified or created), sizes, and more. The View Options inspector lets you choose which columns to display.

Since List View is made up of columns, it's easy to change the order your files appear in. Just click on a column header to choose an attribute to sort by. For example, click on Date Modified to see the most recently changed files at the top of the list, and click on that header again to change the sort order and show the oldest files at the top.

You'll probably find List View most practical for folders that contain lots of files you want to be able to sort by name, date, size, or kind. You have the option of displaying a preview icon as part of the list. List View has two icon sizes; small ones are tiny, and large ones are 24 pixels wide. Although they can provide an at-a-glance way to see what types of files you're dealing with, these icons aren't really big enough to be very helpful.

If you use List View a lot, a better way to see file previews is to open a special Info window (Command-Option-I). Unlike the Info window that displays when you press Command-I, this window stays visible, changing its display whenever you click on a new file. You can see good-sized previews of your images here, as well as play music and movie files by clicking on previews. You can also open any file, folder, or application by double-clicking on this preview.

One of List View's biggest advantages is that you can open folders and browse their contents in the same window. Click on the disclosure triangle next to a folder's name, and the folder's content appears below. You can open and close as many folders as you want, and go to as many sublevels as you want. To close a folder, just click on the disclosure triangle again.

 

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