How to Change Icon View Options in Mac OS X Snow Leopard Windows - dummies

How to Change Icon View Options in Mac OS X Snow Leopard Windows

By Mark L. Chambers

Mac OS X with Snow Leopard lets you customize files and folders are displayed in the Finder, including the sizes of fonts and icons, the space between icons, the amount of information that appears by default, and even the background.

After working in the Finder for a while, you could end up with a big, messy collection of icons, like this:

You can quickly clean up a messy folder like this one.
You can quickly clean up a messy folder like this one.

Before you change options, restore order by right-clicking any open area of the active window and choosing Clean Up.

Whip your icons into a more orderly rank and file.
Whip your icons into a more orderly rank and file.

After things are in alignment, work with the icon view options. (Naturally, you’ll want the active Finder window in icon view first, so choose View→As Icons or press Command+1.) From the Finder menu, choose View→Show View Options to display the View Options.


Mac OS X Snow Leopard remembers the changes that you make within the View Options dialog, no matter which view mode you’re configuring. The changes that you can make from this dialog include

  • Always Open in Icon View: When you select this check box, each Finder window that you open automatically uses icon view. (If deselected, the new window uses the last view mode you used.)

  • Resizing your icons: Click and drag the Icon Size slider to shrink or expand the icons within the window. The icon size is displayed in pixels above the slider.

  • Specifying grid spacing: Click and drag the Grid Spacing slider to shrink or expand the amount of white space between icons.

  • Resizing icon label text: Click the up and down arrows to the right of the Text Size pop-up menu to choose the font size (in points) for icon labels.

  • Moving icon label text: Select either the Bottom (default) or the Right radio button to choose between displaying the text under your Desktop icons or to the right of the icons.

  • Show Item Info: With this check box selected, Mac OS X displays the number of items within each folder in the window.

  • Show Icon Preview: If you select this check box, the Finder displays icons for image files using a miniature of the actual picture.

  • Arranging icons: From this pop-up menu, you can automatically align icons to a grid within the window. You can also sort the display of icons in a window by choosing one of the following criteria from its pop-up menu: by name, date modified, date created, size, item type, or the icon label you’ve assigned.

  • Choosing a background: To select a background for the window, select one of three radio buttons here:

    • White: This is the default.

    • Color: Click a color choice from the color block that appears if you make this selection.

    • Picture: Select this radio button and then click the Select button to display a standard Open dialog. Navigate to the desired image, click it once to select it, and then click Open.

  • Use as Defaults: When you first open the View Options dialog, the changes you’re making apply only to the Finder window that opens when you open the selected item. If you want these changes to apply to all the Finder windows that you view in the current mode, click this button.

After all your changes are made and you’re ready to return to work, click the dialog’s Close button to save your settings.