There are several ways to display folders in the OS X finder:

  • Folders as icons you can arrange
  • List of items you can expand (collapsable triangles)
  • Graphical "flip" display
  • A column mode where you can arrow left and right

The default view is "Folders as icons you can arrange". I however really, really like the "column mode where you can arrow left and right". Is there a way to set the default finder display kind?

2 Answers 2


You can do it on a per folder basis. From the folders you care about - I would imagine this is just your users and root harddrive on your desktop. That'll cover most cases.

Open them, and hit either command-J, or View -> Show View Options.

If you're in Column mode, you'll see a check box to then alway show the folder in that mode.

If you always start finder from a couple of pre-defined places, eg. your desktop double-clicking your drive, this ought to cover your most frequent usage.

  • You could try deleting Finder's preference file (to remove all previously set views) and then do the above once for each disk or partition (i.e. Macintosh HD) and it should apply recursively.
    – sjbx
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 8:29

There doesn't seem to be any default view mode at least on Mountain Lion. The view mode used for folders that don't have a view mode saved in a .DS_Store file is changed when you open a new window or close the last Finder window. It corresponds to the FXPreferredViewStyle key, but the key is not always updated immediately.

The always open in option should be called something like "remember view mode for this folder". If it's checked, the previously used view mode is saved in a .DS_Store file, which overrides FXPreferredViewStyle the next time the folder is opened.

You can make Finder forget the folder-specific view options by running sudo find / -name .DS_Store -delete; killall Finder. It also resets the positions of windows and icons, Spotlight comments, and sorting modes.

Just don't select those always open in checkboxes again after that.

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