I know that .DS_Store files are created in every directory I enter with the finder in Mac OS X, and that keeps track of the folder's metadata (including how is it being displayed). I also know that this command:

sudo find /Users/[USERNAME]/ -name ".DS_Store" -depth -exec rm -f {} \;

... will recursively delete all .DS_Store files insite the /Users/[USERNAME]/ folder.

Also, I know that when pressing CMD+J inside a finder window, selecting the configuration I want (40x40 icons, small-medium grid space, arrange by kind, text size 10px, show item info, show icon preview, background white) and selecting "use as defaults" will.. well, make it the default, and holding OPT will restore it to THAT default.

The thing is that, when I create a new folder, it doesn't take those parameters. And the folders that HAD .DS_Store files deleted keep that previous configuration, not the "default" one.

What can I do to set a system-wide, consistent finder look?

I'm on Mac OS X 10.6.6.

3 Answers 3


To set a system wide finder look you can use the steps in http://macs.about.com/od/usingyourmac/ss/Setting-Finder-Views-For-Folders-And-Sub-Folders_2.htm (and the pages after page 2) to set a folder view recursively using applescript, which will set the old folder views to whatever you want according to the article.

Start by browsing to the parent folder whose viewing options you wish to set and propagate to all of its sub-folders.

Don't worry if you already set the parent folder's view options earlier. It's always a good idea to double-check a folder's settings before you propagate them to all of its sub-folders.

Use the steps outlined on page 3: 'Permanently Set Folder View Options.' Once the parent folder's Finder view is set, launch Automator, located in the /Applications folder.

When Automator opens, select the Workflow template from the list, and click the Choose button.

Automator's interface is broken into four primary panes. The Library pane holds all of the actions and variables that Automator knows how to use. The Workflow pane is where you build a workflow by connecting actions. The Description pane provides a short description of the selected action or variable. The log pane displays the results of a workflow when it is run.

To create our workflow, select the Actions button in the Library pane.

Select the Files & Folders item in the Library of available actions.

In the second column, grab the Get Specific Finder Items action and drag it to the workflow pane.

Click the Add button in the Get Specific Finder Items action you just placed in the workflow pane.

Browse to the folder whose view settings you wish to propagate to all of its sub-folders, then click the Add button.

Return to the Library pane and drag the Set Folder Views action to the Workflow pane. Drop the action just below the Get Specific Finder Items action already in the Workflow pane.

Use the options displayed in the Set Folder Views action to tweak how you want the specified folder to display. It should already show the current folder's configuration for views, but you can fine-tune some parameters here.

Place a check mark in the Apply Changes to Sub-folders box.

Once you have everything configured the way you want it, click the Run button in the top right corner.

The Finder View options will be copied to all sub-folders.

Close Automator.

When it comes to newly created folders, I find that they inherit the properties of the parent when they were created, and I cant find anyway to set that otherwise, but you could even have it based on folder events with automator to run your folder view scripts in whatever fashion you like.

  • This is EXACTLY the answer I was looking for! I just need to test it with the root directory, and that's it! Thank you so much for the link and tips!
    – AeroCross
    Apr 13, 2011 at 20:49
  • Im glad this is what you were looking for! Apr 14, 2011 at 15:44
  • @hobs, this is a great answer. Thanks heaps. I'm wishing to do the same thing on Yosemite, and when I hit Run in automator, I get an error under the Set Folder Views action, which is: -[SBObject containerWindow]: unrecognised selector sent to instance 0x61800025b750. Any idea how to work around this?
    – Old mate
    Aug 23, 2015 at 4:07
  • hey @Oldmate, I am not sure though it sounds like it may be a yosemite error, not something you are causing. (Unrecognised selector sounds like some memory management issues caused by the underlying programs, not you) Aug 25, 2015 at 20:01

There is a simpler way.

  1. In the Terminal, navigate to your $HOME directory: cd ~

  2. Remove all the .DS_Store files:

    find ~ -name ".DS_Store" -depth -exec rm -f {} \;
  3. Relaunch finder going to: Force Quit → Finder

Force Quit Applications Force Quit Finder

  1. Set your global preferences using ⌘J and press the Use as default button.

  2. Now, every folder you open or create will have the new settings.

  • I like this solution, very simple. Have you investigated actually modifying the underlying .DS_Store file? Nov 11, 2014 at 18:11
  • 1
    Note that you can (and should) use this command with the -print option first, just to make sure you won't delete any file that shouldn't be : find ~ -name ".DS_Store" -depth -print. Jan 28, 2016 at 11:09
  • Doesn't work though.
    – mjs
    Jul 14, 2019 at 16:09
  • February 2020 and I can confirm it still works. Even on Catalina! Mar 4, 2020 at 19:22
  • 2
    Thanks @Amaru. It's very surprising that these kind of tricks are still needed to set a default system wide Finder view on a Mac in 2022. Mac is synonymous with intuitive UI/UX - it's wild that with all these desktop OS releases, they still haven't addressed how bad this UX is. Apr 8, 2022 at 19:14

So basically use the Set Folder Views action in Automator:

There's no way to change the size or position of windows though.

You could also use a script like this, but it's just as slow Automator when apply window properties is checked.

tell application "Finder"
    folders of entire contents of (POSIX file "/Users/username/Folder/" as alias)
    repeat with f in result
        open contents of f
        tell Finder window 1
            set toolbar visible to false
            set sidebar width to 0
            set statusbar visible to false
            set current view to column view
            set bounds to {474, 250, 1318, 750}
            tell its column view options
                set shows icon to false
            end tell
        end tell
    end repeat
end tell

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