Finder Icon View Options

In Icon View in the Finder, you have several options that are not available in list or column view. You can change the label size and move it to the right side. You can turn on an option to show additional information like image dimensions and how many files are contained in a folder. You can even set the background color of the Finder window to something other than white, or use an image as the background. Many of the same view options are available for the Desktop as well.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Finder Icon View Options.

You probably already know that there are four different Finder views. There's the Icon View, List View, Column View, and Coverflow View. But the Icon View has some interesting features that aren't in any of the others that will help add some color and interest to a folder, maybe one you have to look at everyday, and you just don't want it to be boring. So how do you access these? Go to View and Show View Options or Command J. This brings up the view options for whatever folder you're looking at. So in this case I have Icon View for this folder and I have this set of options. Note that if I switch to say List View the options changes drastically. So you'll only see these options in Icon View.

Now the first one I'm going to show you is the icon size. So if you want to make the icons larger or smaller you can drag this up or down. This is useful if you have a ton of stuff and you want to be able to see lots of things on the screen at once you can make it small. If there's only a few items in there and you want the icons to be nice and big you can make it very large. 64 is the default. You can also change grid spacing. So you can move the items further apart from each other which is nice. Also you've got text size. So if you really need to be able to see the file names clearly and it's too small you can increase the size or if you want to have them even tinier to fit more characters you can do that as well.

You can also change the label position. We're used to seeing the labels at the bottom underneath the icons but you can actually switch them to be on the right side. This just effects this folder itself. So it's nice just to be able to make a folder a little bit different. Now another option you've got here is Show Item Info. You can notice here that I've got things like the number of items in the folder. So 11 items in this folder. One item in this folder. I've got the dimensions of photos. So some nice info there. If you don't want to have these icons that are especially made up of actual contents, like the photo themselves, you can turn that off. Now you get these default icons here for this folder.

You can also change the background. So default is white, to have a white background like that. But you can switch to color. Click on this color chip here. This brings up this little color wheel to you can go to one of the other types of color selectors there and you can change the color for the entire background there. So you can really make this folder standout. This also helps too if maybe the contents are something that you really want to pop out. Like they are all images and you want them to pop out instead of having the white background there. You can also change it to a picture. So you can drag and drop an image, I'm going to drag and drop a file from the Finder there, and have a picture as the background for the folder.

Now you've got this Use as Defaults button here. That will actually change these settings with the default setting for other folders. So, for instance, now I can dig down to this Home folder here and notice the background is the same. Look in the samples folder here and you can see all my stuff is there. So I can get out of that by switching things back and click Use as Defaults again. Notice I set this one specifically so I have to actually change this one back manually. But other ones won't be set to that default anymore.

So if you do like a different icon size or grid spacing or something like that or you always want the label positions to be on the right you can have the Use as Default button to change it for everything.

Now the desktop is actually just in Icon View of the desktop folder and thus you have similar view options. So I can do Command J for show view options and you can see I have a subset of those. So I can actually change the icon size on the desktop. I can change the grid spacing, the text size. It acts just like an extra folder. I can switch label positions, show item info, take away the previews, and even sort here by one of these categories. So I can set it to Snap to Grid under Sort By so now things will actually snap to a grid if you like things to be very organized. So you've got a subset of the Icon View options for the desktop as well.

Comments: 7 Responses to “Finder Icon View Options”

    Joe Finkelstein
    12 months ago

    Thanks Gary! Very informative.

    12 months ago

    Very helpful.

    Ian Farrar
    12 months ago

    Hi Gary, Thanks for this, but the only folder I cannot change the background to is the ‘Music’ folder. The ‘background’ option is ‘greyed’ out. Is this an Apple default setting that cannot be changed?

    12 months ago

    Thanks for explaining this and how it relates to the other views. Very useful.

    12 months ago

    Ian: I can’t think of any reason why the Music folder is different. Works for me.

    12 months ago

    How to show jpg files as a sideshow in Finder: I think this was a feature in older versions. Also, when I enlarge icons they overflow horizontally, how can I avoid that and have them fall vertically within the window limits. Thanks!

    12 months ago

    There are many ways to show images as a slideshow. One is to select the images, bring up Quick Look (spacebar) and then use the arrows there to flip through them. Or, you can take Quick Look into full screen mode and there is even a Play button. You can also open them all in Preview or use Cover Flow view.
    As for icons overlapping, use the Clean Up or Sort By functions in the View menu to space them apart,

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