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

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

By Bob LeVitus

In List view, the Mac OS X Lion Finder has little triangles to the left of each folder, known as disclosure triangles, which let you see the contents of a folder without actually opening it. This view also allows you to select items from multiple folders at once and move or copy items between folders in a single window.


To display a window in Mac OS X Lion List view, click the List view button on the toolbar, choose View→As List from the Finder’s menu bar, or press Command+2.

When you’re in List view, the following tips can help you breeze through your folders to find what you’re looking for:

  • To disclose a folder’s contents, click the triangle to its left or, if it’s selected, press the right-arrow key.

    If you press Option+right arrow, all the folder’s subfolders also expand.

  • Click the column header to sort items in List view. Notice the little triangle at the right edge of the selected column. If this little arrow points up, the items in the corresponding column sort in descending order; if you click the header (Name) once, the arrow points down, and the items are listed in the opposite (ascending) order. This behavior is true for all columns in List view windows.

  • You can change the order in which columns appear in a window. To do so, press and hold a column’s name and then drag it to the left or right until it’s where you want it. Release the mouse button, and the column moves.

    The exception (isn’t there always an exception?) is that the Name column always appears first in List view windows; you can move all other columns about at will. In fact, you can even hide and show columns other than Name if you like using the View Options window.

    You can fine-tune all four views and the Desktop by using the View Options window. Just choose View→Show View Options or press Command+J. The options you see apply to the active window or the Desktop. Click the Use as Defaults button to apply these options to all windows in that view (that is, Icon, List, Column, or Cover Flow).

  • To widen or shrink a column, hover over the dividing line between that columns and drag left or right. When your cursor is over the dividing line in the header, it changes to a double-headed resizer.