I don't like that files can be placed anywhere, even overlapping other files, in Finder. The files also don't reorganize to fit when resizing the window.

enter image description here

I do realize I can right click and select "Clean up", but I don't want to do that every time I drag and drop a file.

I found this setting to make everything "snap to grid" so it will stay organized in the Show View Options window. However, it only works for that specific folder. Is there any way to make it apply across everything in Finder? I tried clicking "Use as Defaults" but it appears to only apply to new folders.

enter image description here

  • 3
    The key may be as simple as Relaunching Finder.
    – E1Suave
    May 5 '12 at 2:48

The following steps applied "Snap to Grid" even for previously created folders.

Tested on:

  • 10.6.x
  • 10.7.3
  • 10.8.x
  • 10.9.x
  • 10.12.5
  • 10.15.7
  1. Go to any folder control
  2. Control click on the empty space
  3. Click on Show View Options
  4. In the "Sort by" drop down bar select "Snap to Grid"
  5. At the bottom of the window click on the "Use as Defaults" button

NOTE: Because this will become the default setup for ALL Finder windows you may consider manipulating the Icon size, Grid spacing, Text size, Label position, Background, etc... accordingly.

ALSO: If folders do not appear to have snapped to grid on a previously created folder, Relaunch Finder or you could try to toggle the "Icon size" down and back up too refresh the current window.

This is where it is on 10.15 Catalina: image

  • @Nathan Did you have any luck after trying the answer above, or is it still not functioning?
    – E1Suave
    May 16 '12 at 16:57
  • It worked, thanks! Sorry, I just forgot to come back and click the accept button :)
    – Nathan
    May 17 '12 at 1:55
  • @Nathan No problem I am just glad it worked for you. :–)
    – E1Suave
    May 17 '12 at 1:56
  • 3
    works in 10.8 and 10.9 to, tested
    – user66396
    Jan 3 '14 at 23:43
  • 1
    of course Apple, "the pinnacle of UI/UX", decided that by default it's better having a mess of files scattered in a folder, rather than neatly ordered in a grid :/
    – Polentino
    Feb 28 '20 at 17:39

Update for 10.10: When you are in the "Show View Options" Menu, the "Snap to Grid" setting has been moved to the "Sort By:" drop down bar.


Just highlight all the folders you want to clean up, and press clean up selection. It's that easy.

  • 3
    OP has already said "I do realize I can right click and select "Clean up", but I don't like having to do that every time I drag and drop a folder/file."
    – grg
    Aug 7 '15 at 9:46
  • He already said he doesn't want to do this Jun 18 '21 at 17:18

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