The OS X Finder has a number of useful tools and options for organizing and accessing your files, one of these being the various list views for files where you can sort items by various categories, combined with the options of folder tree columns and cover-flow previews. However, when in these various views often you might find yourself scrolling through large lists of files to find what you need.
There are several ways to augment these views, if you use them.
Jump to files by name
In any Finder view, you can narrow in on a desired file or folder simply by typing its name. As you do so, the Finder will select files in alphabetical order based on the letters you type. Even if you forget the exact name of the file or folder, if a list is sorted alphabetically then you can get yourself in the file or folder’s vicinity by starting its name.
Often you can find files faster by sorting the list by a specific criterion. When unsorted, files in list view are listed by whatever column is selected, or in column view files are sorted by name; however, but since you may want to access the most recent files, you can do so by sorting the list by date modified, or perhaps by date added. There are also options such as Date Last Opened, Size, or Kind, to help you distinguish relevant files in a list from others. These options are available in the arrangement toolbar menu at the top of each Finder window, or in the View > Arrange By menu. However, you can also use hotkeys to select these options.
In List view, simply hold Control-Command together, and then tap various numbers to toggle the view designated by those numbers:
1 — Name
2 – Kind
3 – Date Last Opened
4 – Date Added
5 – Date Modified
6 – Size
7 – Tags
0 – No Sorting
Note that not all available criteria have hotkey options, so while these have them for convenience, you will have to access the menus for sorting by the files’ handling applications, or their Date Created.
In addition, even if you have one of these metadata options selected to sort by, you should still be able to sort by others, at least in standard list view. Since column names such as Size or Kind will still be available, then by clicking these, each section representing the main sorting criteria will be arranged by this sub-category.
While the Name, Date Modified, Size, and Kind sorting options are default in the Finder’s list view, you can sometimes add new and custom ones that are contextual, based on the metadata of the files stored in the account. If you would like to see what additional metadata options are available, and then add them as sorting columns in standard list view, simply right-click one of the current sorting columns and choose from the ones available in the contextual menu. You should see the standard sorting options shown first, followed by any alternatives in separate sections of the menu. Select these to enable them, and then be able to sort by them.
Jump to the beginning or end of lists
Sometimes the items you are looking for are either at the beginning or end of a list, especially after scrolling through it a little you re-sort the list by one of the criteria above. While you can always use a scroll wheel or Apple’s trackpads to scroll to the top of a list fairly rapidly, you can also do so with a couple of techniques using the keyboard.
First, hold the Option key and then press the up or down arrow keys to jump to the beginning or end. This is the built-in way to jump to the beginning or end of a list, regardless of its sorting.
Secondly, if the list is sorted by name, then for the most part you can jump at least close to the beginning or end by pressing the “1″ or “z” keys. This will be more situational, but should give you another single-button way of jumping to the beginning or end of some lists.
Topher, I think you missed an opportunity here to distinguish between Sort by and Arrange by – they are not the same thing, though you use them both in the article without distinction. Arrange by was introduced in Lion without fanfare (or explanation) and was a source of considerable confusion at the time.
Sort by is the standard Finder window layout option which provides the available categories in Show View Options under the View menu in the Finder; it hasn’t changed much since the classic Mac OS, except to add additional date criteria.
Arrange by can be more useful but is also more complex. As you indicated without really explaining it, when you use Arrange by, which is available under the View menu as well as the Arrange by pull-down menu icon in the Finder window toolbar, your files and folders are arranged by whatever criterion you select. The advantage of Arrange by is, as you also wrote, that you can sort within the arranged categories for a more granular search.
Arrange by has improved since Lion. In Lion there were only a few categories by which you could refine your sort. Now Arrange by has the same categories as Sort by so the difference between the two is less dramatic and, in my opinion, less confusing. Both methods of ordering files and folders have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on how you use them. Unlike Sort by, Arrange by uses dividers to separate categories and names the category in the divider. If I took the time to get used to Arrange by, I would probably appreciate it more.
“If I took the time to get used to Arrange by, I would probably appreciate it more.”
A true Mac- user! I’ve said the same thing to myself countless times, or more often to my wife: “Just watch the video and you will save more time than you are consuming by hunting around”. Does it work? Nope.