My goal is to set system-wide default Finder view options. In List view, I want Arrange By Kind and Sort By Name.

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I set these options in View Options and click Use as Default for new windows. I have tried to clear the .DS_Store hidden files through the following terminal commands:

sudo find / -name .DS_Store -delete; killall Finder


sudo find / -name ".DS_Store" -depth -exec rm {} \;

All the view settings seemed to be updated in the Finder windows except for Arrange By Kind.

How do I set system-wide default Finder view options in List view to Arrange By Kind and Sort By Name?

My Mac

  • Do you want the viewing option for all folders to be set to List View, or do you just want the default settings for list view to be as you’ve stated, without necessarily changing the viewing option of any folder which is, say, in icon view ?
    – CJK
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 7:18
  • I'd like the viewing option for all folders to be set to List View, arranged by Kind, sorted by name. All folders should change to these options.
    – strimp099
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 20:55
  • I cannot believe this still can't be done !!! I have been annoyed by this for years... at least finally someone else has the same problem, I though it was just me trying to do something crazy Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 1:39

1 Answer 1


I can submit to you this partial answer, which achieves some of what you want, but not all. No matter what combinations I attempted, Arrange By refuses to take on any initial default value other than None. I tried for a couple of hours to solve this one, but gave up. However, I thought you might still benefit from what I did manage to achieve.

The following steps set all folders to list view, and sort by Kind. Although you wanted to have them sorted by Name and arranged by Kind, in the absence of being able to set a default value for Arranged By, what I found was that sorting them by Kind will do just that, whilst using the filename for secondary sorting. That is, the files will be listed by file type, such as JPEGs, TIFFs, MP4s, etc., but within each group of, say, JPEGs, the files will be sorted by name.

1. Backup com.apple.finder.plist

cp ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist ~/Desktop

2. Set top-level defaults using the defaults command

Default to list view:

defaults write com.apple.finder FXPreferredViewStyle Nlsv

Default Arrange By flags that don't seem to be effective:

defaults write com.apple.finder FXArrangeGroupViewBy kind
defaults write com.apple.finder FXPreferredGroupBy kind
defaults write com.apple.finder "FK_ArrangeBy" kind

3. Use PListBuddy to set nested defaults

/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :\"FK_StandardViewSettings\":ExtendedListViewSettingsV2:sortColumn kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :\"FK_DefaultListViewSettingsV2\":sortColumn kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :StandardViewSettings:ExtendedListViewSettingsV2:sortColumn kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :StandardViewSettings:ListViewSettings:sortColumn kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist

/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Add :\"FK_StandardViewSettings\":ExtendedListViewSettingsV2:arrangeBy string kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Add :\"FK_DefaultListViewSettingsV2\":arrangeBy string kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Add :StandardViewSettings:ExtendedListViewSettingsV2:arrangeBy string kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Add :StandardViewSettings:ListViewSettings:arrangeBy string kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist

/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :\"FK_StandardViewSettings\":ExtendedListViewSettingsV2:arrangeBy string kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :\"FK_DefaultListViewSettingsV2\":arrangeBy string kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :StandardViewSettings:ExtendedListViewSettingsV2:arrangeBy string kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :StandardViewSettings:ListViewSettings:arrangeBy string kind" ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist

I initially had the first four set to name in an attempt to achieve the original objective. Upon failure, I set them to all to kind to achieve the result I described.

Ignore any Entry Already Exists reports when running these commands.

4. Clear the .DS_Store files

sudo rm /.DS_Store
find ~ -name .DS_Store -type f -delete

5. Restart cfprefsd and Finder

killall cfprefsd
killall Finder

That's the best I can achieve for now. Hopefully, someone else can build on my answer and give us the missing piece.

  • 1
    The killall command accepts multiple processes, i.e. from its man page [procname ...], so you only need one killall command, e.g.: killall cfprefsd Finder Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 21:11
  • I have the same results you described. Very strange this is so difficult. Thanks for your time and help.
    – strimp099
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 2:51
  • @CJK I've been killing myself over this for the past two days. The set default when using group by kind doesnt work other than the save dialog on a browser for instance. That becomes global. However, when using kind and setting use as default that is never used. Automator also allows you to use "an automated way" but without kind. Your script on Mojave doesn't seem to work for me. Your asnwer was a year ago, but maybe on mojave this doesnt work. Fucking annnoying is what it is. I have to set the view manually for every directory i enter. Even sub dirs.
    – mjs
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 18:11
  • Question is wether it is possible to create one ds_store an copy it over to all sub directories, but that did not seem to do the trick for me eitther. I will try to restart the computer and see if your settings might work then.
    – mjs
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 18:12
  • 1
    Yes, I get it. No prob. I've set a hotkey to arrange by kind so I can apply it for every folder that needs it. Thanks!
    – mjs
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 7:30

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