I'll try to give a general example.

I have the following folder structure somewhere on my local user directory:

├── Icon_Folder
│   ├── file1
│   └── file6
└── Column_Folder
    ├── file10
    ├── file11
    └── file12

How can I force Finder to open the Column_Folder/ in column view while forcing the Icon_Folder/ (and other possible folders) to be viewed in icon view?

Sounds trivial, yes, but here's where I have problems:

  • I open Icon_Folder/, change its view to icon view, press ⌘ cmd + J and tick "Always open in icon view" — presto! it works.

  • Then I open Column_Folder/, change its view to column view, double–check the Finder window's title bar reads "Column_Folder", open view options again — but wait! Finder wants to change the view settings for ~/Desktop/, not Column_Folder/!

NB: I know it specifically wants to change Desktop's view settings because that is where the Root_Folder/ is. If I move the Root_Folder/ to ~/, Finder would like to change, while in column view, the view settings for my home directory and so on…

I'd rather like to know a GUI answer, but if it is much easier via command line, it's OK by me.

All in all, the question boils down to: How do I open the active folder's view settings in Finder while browsing in column view?

2 Answers 2



  1. While in Finder (in any view) drag the Column_Folder/ to the Finder's sidebar.
  2. Select the Column_Folder/ from the sidebar
  3. Switch to column view
  4. Show view settings
    • You can see the view settings will now affect the intended folder
  5. Tick "Always open in column view"; click OK
  6. Remove Column_Folder/ from the sidebar

Now Column_Folder/ will open in column view!

  • 1
    I decided to accept this as it works, but if someone can come up with a more elegant solution, I'm willing to accept it. Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 9:56
  • This works because Column View looks at the current folder and finds its closest ancestor in the sidebar, and chooses that folder as the leftmost column. You can force a folder to open in CV by checking "Always open…" and "Browse…" in the View Options. You can force it to be the root of CV by placing it in the sidebar. Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 21:19

Note that if a folder is not shown in the sidebar, it won't usually be the root folder of any window in column view.

Also "Always open in column view" means "save a folder-specific view mode for this folder in the .DS_Store file of the parent folder". If you check "Always open in column view" and switch to list view, the folder-specific view mode becomes list view.

So if you add ~/Desktop/untitled folder/ to the sidebar, open untitled folder, and check "Always open in column view", the folder-specific view mode is saved to ~/Desktop/.DS_Store. If you remove ~/Desktop/untitled folder/ from the sidebar, it will never be the root folder of a column view window. But if you open ~/Desktop/untitled folder/ in list view and close the window, the folder-specific view mode becomes list view.

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