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Easily resize panels in Finder’s column view to fit long file names

Easily resize panels in Finder's column view to fit long file names

When navigating through directories in Finder’s column view, file names often get truncated because they don’t fit in the default column width. Once you know the tricks that follow, that will not longer be a problem.

It’s been all about Snow Leopard here for the past month or so, but we’re going to take a detour and go over some tips that our friends still running 10.5, 10.4, and possibly earlier can enjoy. And don’t worry, early adopters, everything below applies to 10.6 as well. Everyone wins!

Let’s say you’re drilling down into the heaps of data stored on your Mac. Finder is in column view and you’re having a tough time spotting what you’re looking for because many files with long names are getting cut off. As you probably know, you can click the little draggable handle at the bottom of each column to manually resize them individually. That’s fine, I suppose… but why do things the hard way?

To best demonstrate each of the scenarios below, go to a folder that contains one or more files/folders with names that don’t fit within the default Finder column size.

Manually resize all columns simultaneously

When you go to drag that handle at the bottom of a column, try holding Option on your keyboard at the same time. All of the columns should shrink or grow in unison as you move your mouse left or right.

Automatically resize one column at a time

Instead of dragging the column handle, just double-click it. Notice how that particular column is automatically resized to fit the longest file name in the current directory?

Automatically resize all columns at once

If you’ve got 4 or 5 columns expanded in a Finder window, perhaps only 2 or 3 of them contain files with long names. In that case, you may only want those columns to be wider. Hold Option on your keyboard and double-click any of the column handles. Each column is resized to fit the longest file name it contains.

A similar trick would be to press Shift+Option and double-click on a column handle. All expanded columns are instantly resized to match the longest file name found across all columns. For example, there might be a single column with a 50-character file name. All of your other columns would also be stretched to accommodate a 50-character file name, regardless of whether they have one or not.

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5 Comments Have Been Posted (Leave Your Response)

Thats amazing, I had no idea Option and Shift changed its function! PS I love double clicking feature.

Now how can I make it so finder always opens with each column showing in full view by DEFAULT! :D

Anyone know the trick to do that? I must have it.

Ditto to Adawa’s full-view by default wish!

> Hold Option on your keyboard and double-click any of the column handles. Each column is resized to fit the longest file name it contains.

This is exactly what I’d like to have happen. The only thing that would be even better would be if the finder could be configured to always exhibit this behavior. However, when I try double-clicking on the column handles while holding down the option key on OS 10.5, all the columns are resized to the width of the largest file in any of the columns rather than the individual columns being resized to the largest column they contain. Ideas?

This post would explode if you discovered a way to set a default behavior. An app, a plugin, a config file, a voodoo dance of some kind. Anything!

Has anyone learned said dance about how to make default that a Finder window in Column View always opens showing the full extent of the largest file name in that column view window??????

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