Change Finder Windows View Style from the Command Line in Mac OS X

Jul 4, 2012 - 5 Comments

Finder window list view options
Unless it’s been disabled, any Finder window in Mac OS X has the View option buttons in the windows toolbar. From left to right you can select icon view, list, columns, and coverflow. You may have noticed the window view style doesn’t always persist across Finder windows though, even if you selected “Always Open With _ View” in the View Options. To get around that you can change the Finder windows view style through the command line:

Launch Terminal found in /Applications/Utilities/ and use the following defaults write command:

defaults write FXPreferredViewStyle xxxx

Change the four ‘xxxx’ letters at the end to the setting you wish to be the default. The Finder view choices are as follows:

  • Nlsv – List View
  • icnv – Icon View
  • clmv – Column View
  • Flwv – Cover Flow View

For example, to always use list view the defaults command would be as follows:

defaults write FXPreferredViewStyle Nlsv

Follow that up with a Finder restart for changes to take effect, achieved by killing the Finder process:

killall Finder

If you find these settings to not be consistent across Finder windows, you must remove .DS_Store files from the inconsistent directories. Because the .DS_Store files are prepended with a period they are hidden, making it generally easier to delete them through the command line.

Thanks to Rob for sending in this tip

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Posted by: William Pearson in Command Line, Customize, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. James says:

    Set the style, Command+J, “Always open with view”

    Should be the same effect.

  2. Xavier says:

    You should have a section called Scripting for this kind of entry since this tip is quite useless while working with the Finder and enabling/expanding View Option is only one click away.

  3. Alberto I says:

    I don’t want that all the windows open with the same view style. I want that any window open with the style I want for it.
    I want that by default the windows open with one style.
    But that some windows open with another style that I have chosen.
    – default is column view
    – but folders with images is Icon view with big icons
    – folder with music is list view
    – etc.

    I have never found a way to do this correctly. If I set a folder to open as Icon view, all the folders that I will open then will open in Icon view…

  4. Andy says:

    Is there a good solution to deleting every .DS_Store file on the Mac so that the setting will be universally accepted in all folders? Could use Spotlight maybe or?

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