How to set up auto-arrange for Finder windows Microsoft style

Discussion in 'macOS' started by SlugBlanket, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. SlugBlanket, Dec 7, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011

    SlugBlanket macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2011
    Having used Microsoft Windows until switching to the mac recently, I have been frustrated for the last 5 months at the fact that my Finder windows do not auto-arrange their contents. If I re-size the window or create new items in the window, the contents just sit there, as if mocking me. It's as if they are saying, "No, we don't just work; you have to right-click and then choose how you want us to behave". Sometimes I even imagine they get really smarmy and laugh to themselves; "Yeah we know you set up the defaults but that only works if, and here's the kicker, if you haven't already set preferences for any other sub-folder !"

    So, auto-arrange isn't set up by default and unless someone has told you NOT to set up options for any other folder, setting those defaults won't work either, once you've discovered that option.

    After 5 months of using a mac I have no idea how many blasted folders I've had to set (time after time) to get them to show files in any meaningful order, particularly after re-sizing a window.

    I recently found out that each folder stores it's view settings in a hidden file named .DS_Store. If you want the auto-arrange feature that is default in MS Windows but have had your mac for more than 1 day, then you need to remove all of these .DS_Store files and set your view preferences from as high up the file system structure as possible. I chose to start from /, you may be happy just to do it from your home folder.

    If you are not comfortable with copying and pasting or you are un-comfortable using Terminal, STOP RIGHT NOW.

    The command we will use in Terminal will simply remove all instances of those hidden .DS_Store files on your system. In itself this poses no hazard or danger to OSX. If however you type/copy/paste the command incorrectly you can cause damage by removing files that you did not want removed.

    Terminal Procedure

    1. Open Terminal by going to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
    You will be presented with a screen with a $ prompt. The terminal is waiting for your commands.

    2. Type/paste in the following command to get to the top level of the file system (Macintosh HD).

    cd /Volumes
    3. Type/paste in the following command to remove all instances of .DS_Store from your local hard disk and any attached network disks. This may take a minute or two depending on how many folders it has to search. When the removal task has finished you will see the $ prompt appear again on the next line.

    find . -name .DS_Store -exec rm {} ';'
    Close the Terminal window.

    Finder Procedure

    Now let's set Finder up to show folders the way we prefer. We want to be able to see the top-most level in Finder.

    1. Open up a Finder window and from the menu bar select Preferences.

    2. Click on the Sidebar tab and put a tick in the box for Hard Disks. Close the Preferences Window.

    3. In the Sidebar of your Finder window click on Macintosh HD. You are now in /, the top-most level of the file system. Any view settings that we set here will propagate down to all sub-folders, even those on your network drives, e.g a NAS.

    4. Right-click on the white-space of the Finder window and select "Show View Options". You will get the View Options pop-up window appear.

    5. Third item on the list in the pop-up window, click the button Arrange By and set it to None.

    6. Fourth item on the list click the button Sort By and select Snap To Grid.

    7. Third item on the list once again but this time select Arrange By Name. This will NOT affect how the special folder "All My Files" displays it's contents. The fourth item "Sort By" will grey itself out at this point, don't worry; it's taken the "Snap To Grid" setting we want.

    8. Set any other options that you want to from this pop-up window such as text size, icon size, grid spacing etc.

    9. At the bottom of the pop-up window click the button Use As defaults. Don't worry if it's greyed out since that simply means you have already set the defaults to display this way.

    Now when you re-size your Finder windows they will auto-arrange the contents in alphabetical order and when you drag anything into any folder it will automatically align itself to the grid.
  2. moodiel macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2013
    Finder View preferences

    Dear SlugBlanket,
    I use Lion Version 10.7.5 and followed your advice but with no success. The pop-up window (Command + J) does not offer the option to "snap to grid". This has thrown me off-course. If I open two Finder windows and open the pop-up window in both and thereafter toggle through the windows (Command + `) then in one of the windows a 2nd pop-up window will appear named "Desktop". In this window appears the option to "snap-to-grid" next to the "Sort by" option. I have selected the snap-to-grid option but my Finder views still change according to folder and does not maintain a global view preference. I hope you can help? Thank you.
  3. SlugBlanket thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2011
    I am using the same version of Lion and it is still working for me. When you set this up it is best to work from a single Finder window when setting your view preferences. Once you have set it up exactly as I have described ALL of your Finder folders will behave as described UNLESS you change the view options for a particular folder. Any changes you make afterwards will only affect the folder you are in when you make the change and will not be global. If you want to clear out network folders of .DS_Store files and have them behave in your default manner, make sure they are mounted before you do the stuff in Terminal.

    The key points are:

    1. Close all Finder windows

    2. Make sure you are at the root of the filesystem by going to /Volumes ( / ) in the Terminal window and later on when instructed, make sure you are at the same location from within Finder by clicking on Macintosh HD in the sidebar.

    3. Do the Terminal stuff first to remove all previous settings by deleting all of those .DS_Store files. It's best that you copy and paste the commands into Terminal unless you are familiar and comfortable with UNIX commands. It's very easy to confuse ' with ` or to omit a space.

    4. Implement the (right-click on whitespace) preferences from a single Finder window and do them all at the same time e.g spacing font size etc.

    Hope this helps.
  4. comouno macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2013
    network drive is hidden

    Hi SlugBlanket.

    I followed the steps and it worked.

    I have an issue now. There was a connected network drive and it has hidden that drive for the entire office.... oooppppssss

    How can I "unhide" that drive so that it loads for everyone when our macs are powered on.


Share This Page