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