Read Me First: A Take Control Crash Course
by Tonya Engst

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Table of Contents

Sorting by List—and Why You’d Want To

List view is common on the Mac. Finder windows can display their contents in list view, and numerous other apps do as well. In list view, you can sort the list contents in multiple ways to help you see different overviews of the information and to locate specific items. Tech writers seldom have space to explain the details, but you can learn how to work with list view here.

It’s easy to see a list view in a Finder window—just click the list view button. In the figure shown here, items in a folder are listed alphabetically in the Name column .

① 	To view a Finder window in list view, click the list view button (red circle). In this list, the Name column lists files alphabetically. Other columns provide additional information about each file. Don’t worry if your Mac shows different columns.

① To view a Finder window in list view, click the list view button (red circle). In this list, the Name column lists files alphabetically. Other columns provide additional information about each file. Don’t worry if your Mac shows different columns.

But, you can sort list view in more interesting ways than just alphabetically by name. In fact, you can sort by any column in alphabetical (or numerical) order—or in reverse order! Here’s the same folder, sorted by the items in the Date Modified column, but in reverse order, with the oldest item listed first .

② 	The files are sorted by the date each was last modified, as indicated by the triangle in the Date Modified column header (circled in red). The fact that it’s pointing up indicates that the sort is ascending, or oldest to newest.

② The files are sorted by the date each was last modified, as indicated by the triangle in the Date Modified column header (circled in red). The fact that it’s pointing up indicates that the sort is ascending, or oldest to newest.

Commonly, you can add new columns plus remove those you don’t want to see.

Sorting Any Column

  1. Identify the column header—the rectangle at the top of the column that contains the column’s name, such as Title, Author, or Size.
  2. Click the column header.

The entire view sorts based on the column header that you clicked. A triangle in the column header indicates that the view is currently sorted by that list .

③ 	This cut-out of the iBooks list view shows books sorted by title in alphabetical order. The sort triangle (circled in red) points up, showing that the column is sorted in ascending (A–Z) order.

③ This cut-out of the iBooks list view shows books sorted by title in alphabetical order. The sort triangle (circled in red) points up, showing that the column is sorted in ascending (A–Z) order.

In iBooks, the Title column header darkens slightly, to indicate that the view is sorted by title, but not all list view interfaces darken the active column header.

Note: In some apps, alphabetical sorts ignore the word “the” in titles, and that’s exactly what iBooks did for the figures in this chapter.

Reversing a Sort

To reverse the way the column is sorted—from ascending (A–Z) to descending (Z–A) or vice-versa, click the column header again .

④ 	The titles are now sorted in reverse alphabetical order. The sort triangle points down, indicating that the column is sorted in descending (Z–A) order.

④ The titles are now sorted in reverse alphabetical order. The sort triangle points down, indicating that the column is sorted in descending (Z–A) order.

Resizing a Column

  1. Hover with the pointer over the vertical line separating two column headers.
  2. When you see the two-way arrow resize pointer, drag left or right.

Adding a Column

  1. To see what columns are on offer, Control-click the header bar to open a contextual menu.

    (In iBooks, all available columns are always visible; in list views in the Finder and most other apps, you’ll see a contextual menu when you Control-click.)

    Columns shown with a checkmark in the contextual menu are already displaying in the list view .

    ⑤ 	In many list views you can Control-click the header bar to open a contextual menu of available columns. Choose an unchecked column from the menu to add it to the view.

    ⑤ In many list views you can Control-click the header bar to open a contextual menu of available columns. Choose an unchecked column from the menu to add it to the view.

  2. Choose any unchecked item to display that column.

Tip: If you still can’t see your new column, scroll to the right in the window or resize the window to make it wider.

Removing a Column

Open the contextual menu as described just above, but choose a column that already is checked. By choosing the checked column, you toggle it off.

Note: To learn more about opening contextual menus and how you can do so without using the Control key, read Contextual Menus on the Mac.

Note: For examples of how you can work in list view to manage the contents of a folder, read Managing the Downloads Folder, earlier.

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“In Mac list views, to rearrange the columns, drag a column’s header horizontally in the header bar.”

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