There is an option in the Finder. Right click in the background of a finder window, the new toolbar icon or cmd+j. To change the view of the sorting/arranging I can choose between "Sort by" "Clean Up By" "Arrange by"

It seems they do the same. Anyone knows the difference of them?


2 Answers 2


Clean Up By is only available in icon view. If Arrange By is not set to None, it doesn't seem to do anything until you change Arrange By to None. If Arrange By is set to None and Sort By is set to Snap to Grid, it arranges icons so that they are aligned on a grid. If Arrange By is set to None and Sort By is set to anything else, it sorts icons and changes Sort By to None.

The Arrange By modes were added in Lion. They group items under sections like this in different view modes:

List views cannot be sorted by clicking the headings when items are arranged by some attribute.

When items are arranged by some attribute, Sort By affects the way items are sorted inside the categories in some cases, but in other cases it's disabled.

Sort By doesn't group items under sections. The Sort by mode is changed when for example clicking the list headings in list view. The Arrange By menus change to Sort By when holding option:

  • 1
    And "Clean Up By" is only once. "Sort by" and "Arrange by" will sort every time you move/delete/add something.
    – user8551
    Aug 17, 2012 at 7:13
  • 2
    This is so ridiculously complex.
    – Dogweather
    Oct 23, 2015 at 5:03

If you select "clean by" the icons will be sorted into the order you choose, but you can still slide them around.

If you select "arrange by" the icons will always snap back to a sorted grid and you will no longer be able to slide them around.

  • And what is the difference between "Sort By" and "Arrange By"?
    – user8551
    Jul 31, 2011 at 16:29
  • 3
    Ok the difference between "Sort By" and "Arrange By" is not given, when you "Arrange By Name", but with "Arrange by Kind" you will see lines to separate the categories and after that the "Sort By" will be applied.
    – user8551
    Aug 1, 2011 at 16:13

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