8/10/209:00 am 15 Tips For Using Column View In the Mac Finder If you use Column View in the Finder to organize your files, here are some useful tips. There are many ways to resize or "right size" columns. You can navigate and even move files with the keyboard. There are also some preferences you can set. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Today let me show you some tips for using Column View in the Finder on your Mac. MacMost is brought to you thanks to more than 700 supporters. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you could read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. So of the three primary views, in the Finder, Column View is my favorite and the one I use the most. Here's a typical Finder window with Column View. I'm in my Home folder here and I've selected Documents and then I have the list of all the folders in my Documents folder. Now one of the disadvantages to Column View is that you've got limited space to see File names. For instance, if you look here the third to the last item you can't see the whole name. You see three dots in the middle and the beginning and the end of the file name. But you can always move your cursor over it and wait. Then you'll see the full file name pop-up. If you want to expand or shrink the columns all you need to do is move your cursor over the line between columns. Then you'll see the cursor change. Then click and drag to the right or left to change the column width. So let's add some more columns here. I'm going to click on this folder here and it will reveal more content inside that folder and then I'll click on a folder in there as well. Now if I want to change the column size for all of the columns at once all I need to do is move the cursor over the line between any two columns. Then hold the Option key down and drag to the right or left. It will change all of the column widths at once. Now usually when you're resizing the width of a column the idea is to either show longer file names in there or to shrink it to save space. Like over here. You can quickly do that by double clicking on any line. So I'm going to move my cursor over this line here. If I just double click it will shrink to a minimum size. In this case there is a file name that's longer. So if I double click here it actually expands so it's the perfect size for the longest file name. Now you can combine these by holding the Option key down and double clicking on any line. That will set every column to the exact right size. Some columns to the minimum size. Some columns to the exact size for the longest file name in that column. Now if you Control click on the line between columns you have some options. You can Right Size that column. You could Right Size all columns individually or you can Right Size all columns equally. That will set them all to the same size that's needed for the longest file name in any column. One of the things I love about Column View is that you can navigate completely with the keyboard. So here I've got the Documents folder selected. If I were to use the down arrow it would go to the folders below it. Up arrow goes up. The right arrow will go down into the folder that's selected and then I could use the right arrow to go down further. Then I can navigate all the way down here. I can use the left arrow to go back. I can navigate all around in the different columns just using the four arrow keys. Now you can also use letter keys too which of course works best as long as everything is sorted alphabetically. So, for instance, if I were to hit the p key it jumps right to the first entry in the selected column using that. But if I wanted to jump further, like say to the pics folder there, if I just do pi it will jump to that. Now you can use keyboard navigation to easily move files around using Copy and Paste. So we know Copy is Command C and Paste is Command V. But if you hold the Option key down Paste will change to Move. So Option Command V moves a file. So, for instance, let's use the arrow keys to go up into the Docs folder here. Go to the right, go down here into Images, go to the right, and let's say we want to move this file. I can now do Command C to copy it. It doesn't do anything right away. But now I'm going to the left arrow back here and let's go into this folder here. I can use Command V to paste a copy here or Option Command V to move the file. So I can move a file around just using the keyboard. You can also use Undo, Command Z, to undo any move like that. Now you can also do this with the cursor using drag and drop. So let's go into Images here and I can take this file and I can drag it over to here. Let's go into Project A, wait a second, and it's spring-loaded. It will then show the content in this column here. I can go to this folder here and then I can drop it in there. So I can easily move a file around, almost anywhere in my hard drive, in one window with the Finder in Column View. Now you may have noticed that when I have a file selected, like say this one, I see a preview here on the right. That's true of almost any file type. Here's a PDF, here's an image. All of these files will show me different previews to the right here. If you don't see the preview go to View, and you should see Show Preview here rather than Hide Preview. If you would rather not see these previews you can Hide them. Then the space to the right in Column View would just be blank. With this preview shown it will use all the remaining space for the preview and it will give you lots of information based on the file type. So here for an image, for instance, I can see some general information about it. But I can also click Show More and see lots of details image specific information. You also get some Quick Action buttons down here at the bottom of the preview area. Also notice here I've got the full path at the bottom. If you don't see that you can turn that on by going to View, and then Show Path Bar. Also there's Show and Hide the Status Bar as well which show me information like the number of files at the bottom there and the available space on my drive. Now there are some preferences that you can set as well. What you need to do is go to View, and then Show View Options. But most people use Command J as the keyboard shortcut. This brings up this little control here. So we have some options. One is to Change the Text Size. The default is 12 but let's say I go up to 16 here. You can see I get much larger text here and the icons enlarge to fit as well. I can also go smaller if I want. Now notice there are icons to the left here. Folder icons in most cases and some file icons there too. If I want to get rid of those and just see the names I can turn that Off. If I do have icons on I can decided whether or not I see little icon previews, little pictures here, for images and such. So I can turn that Off. This is helpful if you're using an older Mac and you're going through lots of files. It takes less processing power if it doesn't have to generate all those previews. Sometimes people just don't like to see them. It creates a little more visual clutter. Now notice here you also have Group By and Sort By. You can also go and do those here. So I can say let's sort by Kind instead. This will change it for all columns. So if I go into this Misc folder here things are going to be sorted by kind. Notice all the pdf's are together, for instance. So you have various Sort By options. Probably Date Last Opened or Date Added, Modified, or Created are the most useful. Size isn't that useful in Column View because you can't really see the sizes. But you can also, instead of doing by Sort By, we can do Use Groups. Now Sort By is Group By instead. So now we can group things, in this case by Kind. But we can also group them in other ways like say by Date Last Opened and it will group them together here. You can see Years and Months. Now let's turn that Off and let's say we want everything to be alphabetical but we'd rather have the Folders at the top. Well, that's actually a Finder preference. So we go to Finder Preferences here. We can go to Advanced and say that we want to Keep Folder on top in Windows when sorting by name. So let me select that. Now we see the Folders are at the top and alphabetical and then all the files. I think this is particularly useful in Column View where where when you're digging down into subfolders you have all the Folders here at the top and then all the files following them below. But do note that if you change the Sort By option to something else, like Date Last Opened, then you get Folders mixed in. The same thing when you use Groups and say you were to group by Date Last Opened. You can see the Folders mix in with the files. So one last thing I want to show you is you could actually use a lot of these tricks inside of the Open and Save Dialogs in apps. By default most of these go to Column View here but you have a control to switch between Icon View, List View, and Column View. So when I'm in here I can click and drag the lines between columns. I can double click on a column andI can right click and get all the different options. I can do all those things to control column width. I can also use keyboard navigation to get around inside of these. You could see I can also go in here and group items as well. When I move my cursor over a longer name there you can see it shows me the full name there. So it pays to learn these Column View tricks even if you don't use Column View all the time in the Finder because you're going to see it a lot here when you're navigating to open and save files. Related Subjects: Finder (287 videos) Related Video Tutorials: No related posts. Comments: 14 Responses to “15 Tips For Using Column View In the Mac Finder” Robert Boswell 3 years ago Does NOT work with Catalina 10.15.6. Cursor does NOT change over column lines. Column lines are double with shading, NOT single as shown in video Gary Rosenzweig 3 years ago Robert: It sounds like you have System Preferences, General, Show Scroll Bars set to "Always." Switch it back to "Automatically." Bernard Remacle 3 years ago When I press Option+Command+P in Column View, the Finder Preferences window pops up. If I select it from the View menu it controls the visibility of the Path Bar. However, sometimes the Option+Command+P combination shows/hides the Parth Bar in Finder. Why this erratic shortcut behaviour? Gary Rosenzweig 3 years ago Bernard: I can't think of why Option+Command+P would show Preferences. That's Command+, Bernard Remacle 3 years ago I cannot figure it out. Where on the Mac could I see a list of keyboard shortcuts and their mappings? Gary Rosenzweig 3 years ago Bernard: There is no central list because they change depending on the app you are using. So in the Finder, they may be one thing, and in Pages they may be another. If you look in the menu bar you can see a pretty complete list be going through the menus. paul hershfield 3 years ago When I attempt tp "place" a file or image in Illustrator or InDesign, the column view will not show in alphabetical order. I can find no wy to fix this. Any ideas? Gary Rosenzweig 3 years ago Paul: Perhaps you have grouping turned on. Polly Smith-Blackwell 3 years ago When I go to "Save As" and my column of files come up, my Column View items are not arranged alphabetically by name, but rather by Date Created. I have tried changing every setting I can think of to "Sort by Name," but I can't seem to get my columns back to Sorted by Name when I go to "Save As." Somewhere along the way I must have changed a preference but can't seem to get back to my original setting of Sort/Arrange alphabetically by name. Polly Smith-Blackwell 3 years ago I should mention that in normal view, my Column files are alphabetical. It's only when I go to "Save As" in an application does the file arrangement change to Date Created. Gary Rosenzweig 3 years ago Polly: At the top of the Save As dialog, there is a button for grouping. What is that set to? Alan MacDuffie 3 years ago Very helpful and well done presentation, even for someone who fancies himself well-versed in Finder. I stumbled on it looking for an answer to a related topic that I can never seem to get answered: can Finder be instructed to autosize columns by default, or at least stay the same inside a Finder window? I move around quite a bit in Finder and have to constantly repeat the trick to autosize the columns. Thank you! Gary Rosenzweig 3 years ago Alan: No, there's no autosize. My guess is that they have tested it, but it is very disorienting in practice to have the columns change size automatically. Paul J. Martinez 3 years ago Thanks for the confirmation that there's no autosize option. +1 for Dwarf Fortress! Comments Closed.