Using Finder List View

One of the types of file views you have in the Finder is the List View. This displays more information about each file than either the Column or Icon view. You can sort files by any attribute, and change which attributes are displayed. You can also group files by date, size and other things. You can dig down into subfolders using the reveal triangles next to the folder icons.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using Finder List View.

Hi, this is Gary with Today let's take a look at the Finder's List View.

Now I usually live in Column View. It is what I use every day, all day. But List View can be useful as well and some people prefer it.

To switch to List View simply click on the List View icon up here and then you get the content of a single folder as a list.

There is a lot of functionality in List View. You can sort by all kinds of criteria by simply clicking on the title of each column. For instance I am right now sorting by Name and alphabetically starting with A to Z. You can see this triangle here telling me which order things are in. If I want to change the order I simply click on Name again and you can see the triangle changes and everything is sorted backwards. Click again to switch it back.

If I wanted to sort by Date Modified I simply click the Date Modified field and I can go in either direction there. Any column works like that and it is easy to get back.

In addition to that you can also group things. You can go to View and you can say Arrange By and instead of selecting None you can select one of these things here. For instance let's arrange by Size. When you do that you can see that it breaks it up into groups. You've got these very large files here, smaller and smaller and then you have folders here at the bottom.

Now you can see that things are still sorted alphabetically inside the groups but they will stay inside the groups. So for instance if I change Date Modified things are sorted by the date modified but inside each of the groups. At lot of times people get stuck with this. They'll set an Arranged By like this but get frustrated when they can't seem to be able to get back to the full Sort of Modified By or somethings like that. The secret there, of course, is to just turn off Arranged By, go to None, and then once again your stuff can be sorted as one complete list.

These column headings here at the top can be altered. Go to View and Show View Options. Command J is always a shortcut for that. You get this great little set of controls here and you can set what appears here. So if you want Date Created appear as a column you can. Date Last Opened is very useful. All sorts of different things that you can add here or remove. So if say Kind is not something that you care about you can turn that on or off.

You can also change how big these columns are by simply grabbing the line in-between them like that so you can sort things. I don't have any large file names here so I can give more room for other things here on the right.

You also can do things here with this Size column. You can turn on Calculate all sizes for this folder. What that will do is it will calculate even the sizes of things like Folders. So you can see the Folder here has nothing as its size. If I were to sort this to find out what the largest files are here I would see that the Folder is just at the bottom and there is no size for it. But if I turn on Calculate all sizes it will quickly calculate the size of all the files in this folder here and I can see the size of the Folder.

Other options include Use relative dates. So if you look here you can see the Folder was created today. If I turn that off it will actually put a date on that rather than actually using a word like today or yesterday.

Also Show icon preview you get these little previews of images of icons and things. I can turn that off and I get these just regular icons. If you have a folder that has a ton of files in it, say a folder with thousands of images, sometimes it can be a little slow to look at it in List View because each of these images has to be turned into an icon. So if you use Show icon preview, you turn that off, then you will get a little faster scrolling especially on maybe an older Mac.

With it turned on you can also make the icon size a little larger which might help you find things. You can also adjust the text size as well. You don't have too great of a range. You can go a little bit smaller or larger here but this certainly would be enough to help somebody who might have trouble reading the normal size especially on a smaller laptop.

You may have noticed that I've got all the different sidebars and toolbars and everything turned on here in Finder. One that is particularly useful in List View is the Path Bar here at the bottom. You may not have that turned on and if you want that turned on you go to View and you can Hide or Show the Path Bar there. It is useful because you don't really see the full path to anything here. So you can kind of get this reminder of where things are that you are looking at by using the Path Bar.

Now in List View you are of course looking at the contents of one folder. But you can look down further into subfolders without actually leaving List View at all or opening a new Finder window. You can do that with a reveal triangle next to the folder there. You can see I see the contents of this and access the files there. I can even go deeper down as many levels as I want. You can do things like say drag and drop between these. So I can move that into this subfolder here and I can also move this back out.

So you do have some of the ability of Column View by using these reveal triangles. The nice thing is that you can then hide all this stuff when you don't want to see it anymore.

Comments: 4 Responses to “Using Finder List View”

    5 years ago

    Thank you for the video about using the finder list view. You made it really clear how this feature works. I learned several new things that will be useful and I plan to share this website with the 10 members of my extended family who use macs.

    Harry MArks
    5 years ago

    Gary – every tip you post is a gem that opens new doors of use for me. Thanks so much!

    5 years ago

    I’d like to see you do “Advantages of Column View” (why Gary likes it). I use List View 99% of the time and fear I’m missing something. Somewhere, I’ve seen a key combo that opens or closes all the folders at once, in a list-type view, when you click an arrow–maybe in a previous life like Snow Leopard?.

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