I have Mac OS 10.7.4 and I'd like Finder to use "Is Folder?" as its first sort criteria, or in other words, group folders before files regardless of the sorting method.

Windows and Linux both do this by default.

  • possible duplicate of How sort by name in Finder but first sort folders then files?
    – Lri
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 4:33
  • Wow, the title on that linked question was less than useful before it was edited.
    – Neil
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 15:47
  • Let's keep both - as you can see - people use different words for the same idea so having a few good examples, worded differently will help everyone find their solution. Linking them is great in case another answer is better. I also agree the subsequent edits have helped immensely.
    – bmike
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 15:53
  • 1
    You are asking one of the things I hate most about Windows and Linux. When I sort something alphabetically, I mean alphabetically, not some kind of items first violatinf of alphabeticall order. Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 20:50
  • 1
    When you're looking for things in Finder, you're almost exclusively looking for a file XOR a folder, not a thing of either type with a specific name. That's why sorting by (Folder|File) > Alpha is more useful.
    – Neil
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 21:29

7 Answers 7


Finder > Preferences > Advanced > Keep folders on top when sorting by name

Keep folders on top when sorting by name

Before macOS 10.12 Sierra, this wasn't an option.

Before 10.12, Finder just didn't have a "group the folders" at the top/bottom. There are legions of Mac users that put all sorts of characters in their folder names so that they sort above or below when sorted by name.

There are all sorts of hacky ways to manipulate the "kind" strings internally, but then everything is arranged by kind first, and secondarily alphabetically.

If this is a deal breaker - check out the many apps that run in place of the Finder. Here is a query to get you started:


  • 1
    There is actually a native solution in Mac OS Sierra, mentioned in an answer to this question, here: apple.stackexchange.com/a/262137/3295
    – Neil
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 18:53
  • Thanks @Neil I've edited the post to that people can know the news!
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 20:08
  • Only took them 15 years!
    – Neil
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 23:14
  • I'm amazed enough people asked Apple for it, @Neil . It's clearly not a hard thing to program and they eventually gave in to the request. Kudos to them for not holding the line - clearly a lot of people really want this to happen.
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 0:17

On macOS Sierra, there is a way to group folders together. Launch the Finder. Then head to Finder > Preferences in the menu bar. Head to Advanced and check the option 'Keep folders on top when sorting by name'.


TotalFinder also has an option to keep folders on top:

  • Not anymore :/ ,,
    – mjs
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 17:39

It is pretty simple to make it just like Windows, with folders (alphabetical) starting at the top then other files (also alphabetical). You can do it all using the regular finder application on OS X 10.9. Unfortunately, any applications (.dmg files) will still be stacked above folders.

Go into finder and under view options sort by name, then kind. It doesn't put them in the grid by type now. You'll have to make that the default and probably still change it in all of your favorites from Finder. Hope this works for others too.

  • 1
    This sorts by the "type" field, alphabetically. It doesn't always put folders at the top.
    – Neil
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 13:41

I've put together a snippet that does this a la terminal. It uses the " Folder" trick to sort folders above files and works in list view only.


Unfortunately files are sorted by kind first then alphabetically. Check the location of bootstrap.sh in the screenshot for example.


In the Finder: View Menu -> Arrange -> By Kind

In Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8): View menu -> Sort By -> Kind
(Or use the Finder's shortcut keystroke Command-Option-Control-2)

  • This will override the sorting method, and not use "Is Folder?" as the first out of several sort criteria.
    – Neil
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 15:46
  • Probably better to note that it comes from NeXT days rather than MacOS - and I think folders were first
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 11:40

This can be done. You have to move "Folders" to the top of the Spotlight search results list in Spotlight's preferences. Then, arrange by kind in the Finder. This works. Here is what you need to do.

1) Type something in the SPOTLIGHT search (located on on right top corner of the screen) 2) At the bottom of the search, click on Spotlight Preferences. 3) In the preference box, just drag and move the Folder to the top of the list. 4) That's it. Now no matter how you arrange or sort in Finder window, folders will be at the top followed by other documents. 5) This is amazingly simple.

  • Doesn't affect the sort-order of Finder at all.
    – Neil
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 23:57

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