How to Navigate the Mac OS X Lion Finder in Column View - dummies

How to Navigate the Mac OS X Lion Finder in Column View

By Bob LeVitus

Within OS X Lion views are part of what makes your Mac feel like your Mac. Mac OS X Lion offers four views so you can select the best one for any occasion. Column view is a handy way to quickly look through a lot of folders at once, and it’s especially useful when those folders are filled with graphics files.

To display a window in Column view, click the Column view button on the toolbar and then choose View→As Columns from the Finder’s menu bar. The shortcut way to display a window in Column view is to press Command+3.


When exploring the benefits of Mac OS C Lion in Column view, the following tips are good to know:

  • You can have as many columns in a Column view window as your screen can handle. Just drag any edge or corner of the window to enlarge it so new columns have room to open. Or click the green Zoom (also known as Maximize) gumdrop button to expand the window to “just big enough” to display all columns with content in them.

  • You can click the dividing line between columns to resize column widths.

    Grabber handles exist in Lion, but are invisible. (They’re visible in OS X Mountain Lion and Snow Leopard, and they work exactly the same with the same cursor and everything in all three versions. The handles are the two tiny vertical lines ( || ) at the bottom of Mountain Lion columns.) The handles are pretty versatile:

    • If you drag a handle left or right, the column to its left resizes.

    • If you hold down the Option key while you drag, all the columns resize at the same time.

    • If you double-click one of these little handles, the column to its left expands to the width of the widest item it contains.

    • If you Option+double-click any handle, all the columns expand at the same time to the width of the widest item each one contains.

  • The preview column displays information about the highlighted item to its left, but only if that item isn’t a folder or disk. (If it is a folder or disk, its contents would be in this column.) For many items, the picture you see in the preview column is an enlarged view of the file’s icon.

    But if the item is a graphic file (even a PDF) saved in a format that QuickTime can interpret (most graphic file formats), a preview picture appears instead. If you don’t like having the preview displayed, you can choose View→Show View Options and turn off Show Preview Column.