March 19, 2003


So I consider myself a fairly adept OS X user, but thanks to sites like Mac OS X Hints, I still discover gaps in my knowledge; tips I wish I knew long ago, things that affect my every day workflow. One of these is a very simple but crucial tip to know if you rely as I do on Finder Column view in working with directories: holding down the Option key while dragging columns allows you to resize an individual column.

Yup. I've lived unnecessarily long without this knowledge, and it pains me enough to write about it. [Those of you who already knew this can skip the rest and go straight to posting snide remarks in the Comments.] If you don't understand why this might be a useful tip, or maybe even what this column view thing is all about; please read on.

Along with the traditional Icon and List views, the new Finder Column view in OS X lays out your file and directory view in a "browser" window divided by columns starting with volumes or directories on the left and ending with files or subdirectories to the right. If the right-most item is a file or application, then the final column will display the file/application icon and associated information such as file size, creation and modification dates and so on. If the file is an image, then a thumbnail of that image is also presented—it's this last feature I find useful in my work as it provides an easy way to preview and get a byte count on the images I'm working with. QuickTime movies will also render directly in the column, providing a quick way to browse your QT content without having to open up the QuickTime Player.

The normal behavior of dragging a Finder column results in a symetrical resizing of each column within the Finder window. Sometimes a column becomes too narrow to display what you want to see, for instance, both image thumbnail and full filenames in parent directories. When this happens, option-dragging the column grab area allows you to resize the column between the two views and expose the full length of the filename—it's a great feature for a great new way to view content on your file system.

Posted by Lewis Francis at March 19, 2003 11:11 PM
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