A file selection trick for Finder windows

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Here’s a simple hint (that many long-time Mac users may already know) for navigating Finder windows in anything other than Column View mode. As you’re probably aware, you can use the Finder’s View -> Show View Options menu to control the sort order for Finder windows. If you’re working in a client’s folder, for example, you might want to sort by date, so that the client’s newest files appear at the top of the file list.

But when working in such a view, what do you do if you want to find a file that may be named similarly to one near the top of the list? Perhaps you keep multiple copies of design variations, for instance. Sure, you could reach for the mouse or use the arrow keys to move through the files one by one, but that’s time consuming. Instead, try this trick: just press the Tab key.

When you press Tab, the Finder will automatically select the next file in the current folder based on sorting by name, regardless of what sort order you’ve applied to that folder. If you press Shift-Tab, the Finder will select the previous file based on sorting by name. (You can also use the first few letters of a file’s name to select it, of course, but that won’t let you easily browse all the files in the folder in name order.) Each time you press Tab (or Shift-Tab) again, the Finder jumps to the next (or previous) file, again using a name-based sort. (In column view windows, the Tab key won’t work in this manner.)

If you remember this simple technique, you can keep key folders sorted the way you wish, and yet still have a relatively easy way to browse the folder’s contents based on filenames.

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