Show Information in Finder List View


Show Information in Finder List View
Mac Tip #339, 21 May 2008

List View

A Finder window containing various folders, with contents of one folder also listed.

A Finder window containing various folders, with contents of one folder also listed.

My screenshot shows a Finder window containing various folders, with one folder’s contents also listed. I chose to view these as a list. To view a list go to the View menu in Finder and choose ‘as List’ or press Command 2. If you display the Toolbar on Finder windows, you can of course switch views with the Views buttons.

I have my Listed files sorted by Name in alphabetical order. To reverse the order I could click on the column header — in this case Name. Sort any column by clicking on its header. Click again to reverse the order.

The name column is always displayed, and always on the left, but drag any other column by its header to move it to a new position. In my second screenshot I’ve changed the order of the columns around and sorted by Date Modified, with the newest items at the top.

A Finder window containing various folders, with columns changed around.

A Finder window containing various folders, with columns changed around.

To display more columns and more information go the Finder’s View menu: Show View Options (Command J). It offers several options that are different from those for Icon View. My third screenshot shows a Finder window with all options turned on and the View Options window obscuring some of the information.

A Finder window with all options turned on and the View Options window obscuring some of the information.

A Finder window with all options turned on and the View Options window obscuring some of the information.

In my screenshot you can see that I chose for this folder window to always open in List view, with small icons, and 10 point text — that was really only so I could fit everything into the screenshot.

I set all columns to display. Note, for example, that the VersionTracker Downloads folder was created on 3 November 2006, but modified ‘today’, when I saved new files inside it.

The size of all items (in Megabytes) is displayed, and for software a Version number is available. Where I’ve labelled an item the colour is displayed as a background behind the row of information, but also the name of the label is displayed.

While I don’t bother changing the label names, some people use them for words like ‘important’, ‘urgent’, ‘backups’ and so on. One of the most ancient MacTips (Change the label name, Mac Tip #12/18-July-2001) explained briefly how to do this for Mac OS 9. The movie it refers to no longer exists though, and the instructions are a little different from Mac OS X. I’ll write up new instructions in a future Tip.

Relative dates uses words like ‘today’ and ‘yesterday’ until files are a bit older. This makes it easy to spot recently changed or downloaded files in a list.

Note the handy information in the Comments column for images I’ve created myself: Mac OS X creates an HTML tag that authors can just drop into any web page.

A Finder window with all columns turned off, large icons and large text.

A Finder window with all columns turned off, large icons and large text.

For those who don’t like clutter, my final screenshot shows a Finder window with all columns turned off, large icons and large text. Really, you can customise that Finder window to be just how you like it.

But wait, there’s more… Yet to come: Column View and Cover Flow.

Update: I’ve been experimenting with making a movie and would love to get your feedback.

View the List View Tips movie (13 Mb, .mov file). Note: give it time to load — it will play eventually.

Note: this is an experimental movie, made with a demo version of ScreenFlow, so it has the words ScreenFlow Demo emblazoned across it. If you all respond well to this concept I’ll pay up for the software and be able to remove that banner. Update: I did buy the software, and you can too. Buy ScreenFlow 4 (affiliate link).

Alternatively, download the List View Tips Movie (zipped, 10.6 Mb). After it’s downloaded to your machine, double click it to expand the zipped file and then double click the movie to play it.

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17 Comments

  1. Pingback: How to Set Finder Labels and Sidebar Preferences — Mac Tips

  2. Maureen Small said:

    Thank you so much!!

    I had tried that, but for some reason the comments weren’t showing up in the comment column. Once I exited the window and reopened it, they appeared.

    You’re so good, I’ve subscribed to your email & I’m adding you on my Twitter!

  3. Miraz Jordan said:

    Hi Maureen,

    that’s an excellent question and suggests to me what I should write in my next MacTip. :-)

    In brief: Control click on the File in the Finder and choose Get Info. In the Get Info window that appears open up the Spotlight Comments section and type in what you need.

  4. Maureen Small said:

    Your tips were helpful to me (I’m really a novice at Mac) but I still haven’t found the one answer I’m looking for: how do you get the comments into the comment column?? I want to be able to sort by comments, but I can’t figure out where I type the text to show up in the comment column. (I’m trying to create a way to search through hundreds of video clips by subject matter, so I thought listing key words in the comment column would give me a way to do that.)

  5. james said:

    Miraz,
    Thanks! I found the International > Formats had been set to ‘custom’ – frankly I have no idea why/how/when that was tinkered with, but setting that back to US brought my years back.
    (FYI, an Apple genius gave up on this issue after about 15 minutes…)
    James

  6. Miraz Jordan said:

    Hi James,

    there are a lot of questions here. What does show in List View? Do you have both older and newer files?

    I hadn’t realised how intelligent List View dates are: as I make the column wider and narrower I get longer and shorter date forms.

    Have you played with the settings in the International – Formats menus? Are you using Leopard? What do you see in Cover Flow view?

  7. James said:

    Question:
    The year is missing from my dates in list view. I’ve tried everything. The only way I can get it back is if I narrow the column and the dates snaps to a numeric date.
    How do I get it back?

  8. Miraz said:

    Many thanks Stefaan. I’d be interested to know from others whether the audible click is useful or annoying.

    For other readers: Stefaan has some interesting looking video tutorials, in a language that I suspect is Dutch. Search on iTunes for ‘itutor podcast’.

  9. Stefaan Lesage said:

    Hi,

    Congratulations on the screencast. Personally I’m not using the clicking audio sound myself, but that’s maybe a personal flavour of mine :-)

    Other than that, it’s really well done.

    Regards,

    Stefaan

  10. Miraz Jordan said:

    Norbert:

    > I am still running 10,4.11 and I notice that during your screencaster, near the end you magnify some areas and I was wondering if you can only do that in 10.5 or and I do it in 104.11 and so how do I do it.

    I’m afraid that magnification was a feature in the software I used to prepare the screencast and isn’t part of the Mac system.

    > As you know I am bedridden and there are times my eyes don’t want to work the way they should and this would help me a great deal.

    I’m not bedridden, but find my eyes don’t always work as I’d like them to. :-)

    Go to System Preferences – Universal Access – Seeing and check the On button beside Zoom. Now you can zoom in on the screen by pressing Command Option = (equals sign). Move around by moving your mouse.

    To zoom out again press Command Option – (minus).

    In System Preferences – Universal Access – Seeing click on the Options button to be able to set details of how zoom should work.

    I hope that will help you.

    Cheers,

    Miraz

  11. Pingback: Show Folders in Cover Flow View — Mac Tips

  12. Norbert C. Ballauer said:

    Hi Miraz,
    I just got out of the hospital so I am a little behind, I enjoy your screencast, but I have a question that I hope you can help me with, I am still running 10,4.11 and I notice that during your screencaster, near the end you magnify some areas and I was wondering if you can only do that in 10.5 or and I do it in 104.11 and so how do I do it.
    As you know I am bedridden and there are times my eyes don’t want to work the way they should and this would help me a great deal.
    Keep up the good work and looking for more tips till that man calls me home.

  13. Don said:

    Hi Miraz,

    Congratulations on your first screencast – great job and you have a very listen-able voice.

    I should really have tried to put you off to prevent further competition but there’s plenty of scope for more screencasts and screencasters :-)

    Well done!

  14. April said:

    I found new things in this tip – I didn’t realize that the text size could be changed in list view (too accustomed to OS 9 I guess). As for the screencast the text above makes it seem a bit complicated while the screencast shows just how easy it is. Surprisingly I have never heard your voice before so that was nice too. It did take awhile to load though.

  15. Miraz Jordan said:

    Hi NKA,

    thanks for visiting the Tips and taking the time to leave a comment.

    I’m puzzled though that you didn’t suggest what *would* qualify as a Tip for you.

    Over almost two decades I’ve worked with people whose expertise lies somewhere on the scale between ‘What’s the Finder?’ and ‘How do I open a new window?’ through to those who know all anyone can possibly know about using a Mac.

    On the basis of real-world experience I can assure you that there are plenty of people who will find something new in this Tip.

    So: how about sharing with readers of these comments what it is *you* don’t know, what would qualify as a Tip for you.

    I always welcome suggestions for Tips, and am open to publishing Tips from guest authors too.

  16. NKA said:

    Hmm, Finder List view doesn’t seem to qualify as a Mac tip, at least for me. Who is unaware of this?

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