A View for all Reasons - Part Three

Written and published June 2, 1999

Last week I showed you how to custom set your folders as lists. This week I thought I'd give you an idea of a few of the ways I have found list views handy. Since it's a holiday week I figure I shouldn't get too heavy.

Finding recent files

Have you ever worked on something and saved it, only to be totally unable to recall what you called it - and you can't find it but you know you saved it and where you saved it? (Gee, not me... not today at least... yet.) You can do a Find, but if you know where you saved it and the folder is handy this can be faster.

List View can help to locate the newest or most recently changed folders or files. When you need to work with the newest files in a folder you just click the Date Modified column header and the newest ones pop to the top. Want to see the oldest instead? Click the pyramid-like button above the top scroll bar and the oldest pop to the top. (That button is a reverse sort button.)

If you are manually backing up your files, popping the date created to the top of a list helps you see which files you need to back up and makes it easy to marquee-select them to drag to your backup disk.

Getting program info

When it comes to your applications, it can be helpful to see the version or date created. You can go to each application's icon and choose File->Get Info, but that's a few steps. Instead, you can set up your Applications folder to its own view and set the view to show Date Created, Date Modified, Version, and Size. That way, whenever you need to see an app's info, just double-click your Application's folder, type the first letter of the app's name to jump to that program (or near it), and click the arrow beside its folder to reveal the info on that app. In this screen shot you can see my GoLive and AppleWorks info.

Notice I suggest opening the Applications folder to do this. That way you only have to set this view once. That is, if you have all your application's folders in a single folder (whether called Applications or by any other name). Remember, when you open a folder and set a view, all folders you reveal within that folder (by clicking the blue arrow) use the same view.

Tracking trash

Before you empty my trash it is sometimes good to see what's there - just in case. There are two benefits to using List. One is to easily make sure any "untitled folder" really is empty, rather than a folder you forget to name -- and happens to be full of important stuff. You can easily tell by clicking the arrow beside it. If nothing is revealed when the arrow faces down, you know the folder is empty. Secondly, seeing the dates of your files may help you be sure you're deleting the intended file.

And one of my personal everyday uses

I do a lot of screen shots using a shareware called Snapz Pro. (I just switched to it and I love it, but that's another article... soon.) Anyway its screen shots land in a folder called Screen Snapz and nothing else goes into that folder. For easy access I keep his folder as a pop-up tab. The only columns window (folder's view) are Date Created and Size. In order to be able to identify the latest shot I sort by date. That way when I take several shots and some aren't perfect, I can identify the correct one by the order in which it was taken. (Then I delete the rejects and move the good one to the appropriate project folder such as the book or article I took the shot for.) The date column is wide enough to see the minutes. I also have the size column visible to see whether the image is a good size for web use.

Custom sorting via comments

This use comes from reader Bill Briggs.

As a loyal reader of your column, I thought I'd pass this little tidbit along to you, as it may come in handy for some people (it has for me). You mentioned all of the parameters that you could select to see in a list view. And of course, one of them is... Comments.

...If you want files to show in a particular order in the list view, but sorting by any other criteria (name, date created, etc.) will not do it for you, you can put numbers or names in the comments box. That will allow you to sort them in the right order. If you then sort by comment after opening the window, they jump into the right sequence. I've used this myself lots of times. My real software expertise is with FrameMaker, which allows you to add files to a master file called a Book file, and you can order them in anyway you like in the book (typically by chapter). If you want the Finder's list view of the files to match the order of the Book file, then you can use the Comments window to achieve this. I can imagine other scenarios where this would be useful. I've also got another use for the Comments...

Deb's note: We'll save Bill's other use for a later time.


When I first wrote this column, I added a note about a utility called CoolViews by Quadratic Software providing this ability in pre-OS 8.5/8.6 users. However, per Quadratic's site, Quadratic Software deecided to close up shop.

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