How to Use Icon View in OS X Mavericks - dummies

How to Use Icon View in OS X Mavericks

By Bob LeVitus

There are several ways OS X Mavericks allows you to view icons. One of these options is called Icon view. Icon view is a free-form view that allows you to move your icons around within a window to your heart’s content.


To display a window in Icon view, click the Icon view button in the toolbar (shown in the margin), choose View→As Icons from the Finder’s menu bar, or press Command+1.


Learn to love the Icon Size control in the lower-right corner of Icon view windows or in the top-right corner when the Sidebar and toolbar are hidden.

In all fairness, many perfectly happy Macintosh users love Icon view and refuse to even consider anything else. Fine. But as the number of files on your hard drive increases (as it does for every Mac user), screen real estate becomes more and more valuable.

The only real advantages that Icon view has over Column or List view are the ability to arrange the icons anywhere you like within the window and to put a background picture or color behind your icons. Big deal.

This solution is offered as a compromise: If you still want to see your files and folders in Icon view, make them smaller so that more of them fit in the same space onscreen. This is what you may do with any icons you have on your Desktop (because the Desktop allows only Icon view).

To change the size of a window’s icons, use the little slider in the bottom-right corner of the Finder window when the status bar is showing. If it’s not, choose View→Status Bar (or press Command+/).

Bigger icons make may make some people crazy, but if you like them that way, your Mac can accommodate you. You can also alter the space between icons by dragging the Grid Spacing slider left or right. Note: If you like Icon view, consider purchasing a larger monitor.

The Finder’s View menu also offers a few commands that might help you glance through your icons more easily:

  • Clean Up: Choose this command to align icons to an invisible grid; you use it to keep your windows and Desktop neat and tidy. (If you like this invisible grid, don’t forget that you can turn it on or off for the Desktop and individual windows by using View Options.)

    Clean Up is available only in Icon view or when no windows are active. If no windows are active, the command instead cleans up your Desktop. (To deactivate all open windows, just click anywhere on the Desktop or close all open windows.)

    You’ve probably taken great pains to place icons carefully in specific places on your Desktop. Cleaning up your Desktop destroys all your beautiful work and moves all your perfectly arranged icons. And alas, cleaning up your Desktop is not something you can undo.

    If any icons are selected (highlighted) when you pull down the View menu, you see Clean Up Selection rather than Clean Up. If you choose this command, it moves only the icons that are currently selected.

  • Clean Up By: This command combines the tidiness of the Clean Up command with the organizational yumminess of the Arrange By command.

    This command sorts the icons by your choice of criteria, namely:

    • Name (shortcut: Command+Option+1)

    • Kind (shortcut: Command+Option+2)

    • Date Modified (shortcut: Command+Option+5)

    • Date Created (no shortcut)

    • Size (shortcut: Command+Option+6)

    • Tags (shortcut: Command+Option+7)

    It’s similar to the Arrange By command, but this one’s a one-time affair. After you’ve used it, you can move icons around and reorganize them any way you like.

  • Arrange By: This command rearranges the icons in the active window in your choice from among nine ways, which happen to be the same nine options (ten if you count “None”) in the Arrange pop-up menu.

    Unlike Clean Up By, which is a one-shot command, Arrange By is persistent and will continue to reorganize your icons automatically. In other words, you can’t move icons around manually in an arranged window.

    One last thing: The Clean Up and Clean Up By commands are only available for windows viewed as icons; the Arrange By command is available in all four views and remains in effect if you switch to a different view or close the window.

    To stop the Finder from arranging icons in a window, choose None from either the View→Arrange By submenu or the toolbar’s Arrange pop-up menu, or use the keyboard shortcut, Command+Control+0.