How to Use Column View in OS X Mavericks - dummies

How to Use Column View in OS X Mavericks

By Bob LeVitus

Views are part of what makes your Mac feel like your Mac. OS X Mavericks offers different views so you can select the best one for any occasion. Some people like one view so much that they rarely (or never) use others. Column view (see the following icon) 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 (as shown in the margin), choose View→As Columns from the Finder’s menu bar, or press Command+3.


Here’s how you click around in Column view to see the list of folders and files you see here:

  1. Click the Documents icon in the Sidebar, its contents appear in the column to the right.

  2. Click the Templates folder in this column, its contents appear in the second column.

  3. Click the biz cards BL.TV show 12 folder in the second column, its contents appear in the third column.

  4. Finally, click the BLTV Logo.psd icon in the third column, the contents of that file appear, along with some information about it: It’s an Adobe Photoshop file, 511K in size, created on 1/23/2012, and so on. That’s called the Preview column.

When you’re poking around your Mac 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 use the little grabber handles at the bottom of every column to resize the column widths.

    They’re pretty versatile:

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

    • If you hold down the Option key when 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.

    • Right- or Control-click any grabber handle for a pop-up menu with three options: Right Size This Column; Right Size All Columns Individually; and Right Size All Columns Equally.

  • 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 were 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 QuickLook can interpret (most graphic file formats and many others including Word and Pages), 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.