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As pictured this new list view has the column headers that are un-clickable, so one can't sort by clicking on the column headers.

Why is the Finder doing this and how do I get it back to the way it is in the deactivated window.

Any suggestions?

Arrangement vs no arrangement on a list view

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The simple answer to "Why is the finder doing this" - the column headers are switched off any time a folder's Arrange by setting is set to anything other than None. You probably at some point changed it to Arrange by Name, which looks the same as Arrange by None (everything sorts by name), but has the (usually unexpected) side-effect of turning off and greying out the column headers. Switch it to Arrange by None and you'll be able to sort by date modified, size, kind, etc again. –  user568458 Jan 13 at 15:25

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You could also select View > Arrange By > None, press ⌃⌘0, or change the arrange mode from the pop-up menu on the toolbar.

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See also Finder: Difference of "Sort by", "Clean Up By" and "Arrange by" - Ask Different.

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This new different list view is a result of the fact that Apple added a new way to organize and visualize files in a folder in Lion as noted in a article by MacYourself - How to arrange and sort files in Finder using Mac OS X Lion. As a result there is some confusion.

Lion’s new way of arranging and sorting in Finder

In previous versions of Mac OS X, the Arrange By function in Finder simply changed the order in which files and folders were displayed based on the user’s selection. In OS X 10.7 Lion, there are two ways to sort: Arrange By and Sort By. Arrange By now groups files and folders into categories.

An arragement is set on the list view and that is why the directory looks abnormal. To re-enable column header that can sort one needs to first un-set the currently selected arrangement.

A way to stop the arrangement of a list view:

  1. While in a Finder window with an arrangement set, select the "View" drop down menu on the menu bar and select "Show View Options" or type Command+ J

  2. Under Arrange By: pop-up menu select "None".

  3. Now the Finder window should have the clickable column headers as expected in a list view.

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  1. Right-Click in the window
  2. Click on the menu entry "display options"
  3. And change the first drop-down menu to "nothing"

enter image description here

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How do you get to this view? Right clicking in the Window only reveals a list that has the options: Date Modified, ..., Size, Kind Comments, Label. Aka just the column header options. –  MrDaniel Aug 28 '12 at 12:54
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MrDaniel: I'm not sure where you're clicking if you only get a menu with column headers, but it's also available under the View menu, or by pressing command-J. –  Ken Aug 28 '12 at 16:29

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