How to Sort Files and Folders in Finder for Mac OS Lion

Sorting folders and files in Mac OS just became simpler with the latest version of Mac OS X.

In Lion Apple introduced a new button on finder which allows you to sort files and folders from any view.

In this guide I will show you how to use this new feature to sort files and folders and will also show you how to sort using the column title in Finder.

How to Sort Files and Folders in Finder

Pre-Lion File Sorting in Finder

Prior to Lion you would sort files and folders using the Tasks menu in Finder.

Sorting files folders finder mac os lion

1. If you are viewing files in any view other than the list view, the only way you can sort the files is by clicking the Gear icon (Tasks) > Keep Arranged By and then selecting how you would like the files to be sorted from the list.

Sorting files folders finder mac os lion a

When viewing files in the List View you have the option of clicking the column headings to sort the files in Finder.

In Lion you will find that there is a third and more universal method of sorting files in Finder.

Post-Lion File Sorting in Finder

Lion allows you to sort files in the Finder using the two methods described above along with a new method which uses the Sort icon or Arrange items by button.

Sorting files folders finder mac os lion b

1. With Finder open click the Sort icon and select one of the sort options available. This button is accessible regardless of which view you are using in Finder.

This new option makes it easier to sort files and folders in Mac OS X.

If you have any comments or questions please use the comments form below.

Software/Hardware used: Mac OS X Lion.

  • Dolcehavana

    Is there any option to arrange the finder by “kind” but keep alphabetically the folders and files because it doesn’t? That’s actually  a combination of “Kind” and “Name”.

  • Klherzberg

    How do arrange files to become your new default setting? 

  • Guest

    In finder I clicked on the “Gear icon”, and then Show View Options. In that window you can set ArrangeBy and SortBy. I had to set ArrangeBy to None so SortBy was un-greyed. All fine since then.

  • rob brown

    In the column view, its great that I can have it broken down by “type”, but it sucks that within those types, it seems to be randomly ordered. Any way to make it be type first, this alphabetical?

    • EricOnit

      It appears they order the last used on top. At least that is what it looks like to me. I would rather have alphabetical also.

    • Phil

      To have column view arangedBy Type and alphabetical sort, first select arrangedBy type and next, Show View Option and sortedBy Name (the default value is to sort by last opening date).

    • EricOnit

      It appears that only files sort last used on top. Folders seem to sort in some random order as you pointed out.