Options for managing Finder windows in OS X

FinderIconXApple’s default approach for window management in the Finder is to provide you with one window in which you can access most of the locations you need on your Mac’s file system. In this manner, you should not need to have too many windows open at once; however, there may be times when you will have a number of windows to manage.

This may be especially true if you find it more intuitive to move or copy items by dragging and dropping them from one location to the next, and thereby have a number of windows open for your source and destination locations.

While you can view and switch between windows relatively easily use Apple’s Expose window-management feature, it may be a touch frustrating to constantly having your windows splay around on screen to grab them, and instead you might wish to have them in a more consolidated location on screen.

To do this, Apple has several services in OS X that can be used to manage your Finder windows:

Cycle through windows

A quick way to manage a few open windows on screen is to simply cycle through them by holding the Command key and then tapping the grave accent character (the tilde key), which is above the tab and next to the 1 on the standard US keyboard layout. Similar to how Command-Tab will switch between programs, this will switch between the current open windows.

Merge all windows into tabs

Another easy option you can use is in the Window menu in the Finder, where you should see an option to merge all of the current windows into tabs in one window. This can be a convenient way to essentially move all windows into one stack and clear the clutter, without closing them. You can then select a tab and drag it out of the collection to make a new window out of it.

Collect windows on the main display

If you use multiple monitors with your Mac, then you may run into the frustration of having Finder windows scattered among them. An easy solution to this is to go to the Displays system preferences, where you should see a button at the bottom for gathering all windows. Clicking this will move and arrange all windows to the current display, allowing you to more easily pick from among them.

4 thoughts on “Options for managing Finder windows in OS X

  1. Charlie

    Since upgrading to Mavericks I welcomed the ability to Cmd-T and add an additional tab in a Finder window. Though I haven’t tried it yet with more than two Finder tabs visible, on my Macbook Pro I’ve come to rely on Total Finder’s option to drag and drop files/folders between two tabs after invoking Cmd-U.

  2. MaX

    See also:



    To bring back the useful labels and fit-to-contents column views.

  3. Tin

    And I really can’t stand the lack of double-clicking to open a folder in a new window. I hate having to Command + double-click to get a new window to open. This is a pain.

  4. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    There are a number of third-party utilities that can organize Finder windows one way and another. I have been using Finder Window Manager for many years now. Unlike other window managers, FWM doesn’t place windows in a grid but rather enables you to create window sets with windows in specific locations and in a specific size. FWM is Trialware, which means you can try it out to see if it meats your needs before paying for it.

    For sorting out application windows I still find Expose to be most useful.

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