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Customizing Folder Views

Both Windows and Macintosh operating systems provide many useful ways to customize your folder views to make file organization easier. Most users realize that folders can be viewed as icons or as lists, but that's just the beginning of how you can customize folders. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Mac OSX:

  • In Icon view a Macintosh folder can often look a like a scrambled mess of a desktop with folders piled all over the place and even on top of each other. To organize them quickly, select "Show View Options" from the View menu. In this window you can not only organize the folders by Name, Date, Kind, etc., you can also change the size of the icons and the text names. Or, just choose "Snap to Grids" so the files and folders are arranged in an orderly fashion.
  • While you are at it, you can also change the background color of the folder window (or even apply a picture to the background). This would help you to quickly distinguish between a folder on your desktop and your Macintosh system "Documents" folder. And, you can choose whether to apply this view to just the folder window you currently have open, or to all windows.
  • If you want a particular file or folder to really stand out in the crowd, simply select it, and click on the File menu. Select a Label color at the bottom of the menu.
  • Here's a really handy trick. Create special "Smart" folders that are actually the results of searches. For instance, you can create a New Smart Folder, and search for all Word Documents that contain "eval" or "div III" in their name. Then, save the search folder. Next time you want to find all the files in one place, just open the Smart folder.

Windows XP:

  • Open your "My Documents" folder to see what is possible. Right click within the folder to display a context sensitive menu. Here you can choose to view the folder as Icons, List or with Details. You can even display your picture folders as Thumbnails or in Filmstrip view. Click on the "Arrange Icons By:" item to select Name, Size, Type, etc. You can even choose to "Show in Groups", which will create an alphabetical grouping if files and folders are arranged by Name. In Detail View, you can group by timeframe if the folder is arranged by Modified date.
  • Right click on a folder and select "Properties". Click the "Customize" tab to find some options you can change. One option is to apply a picture to a folder, which will appear in Thumbnails view.
  • Want to access certain folders often? Use the Favorites Explorer bar. With "My Documents" open, select "Explorer Bar'Favorites" from the View menu. If you click on the "Add?" icon, the "My Documents" folder will be added to the Favorites bar.
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