Finder: Expand a Folder & Its Subfolders

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If you like using List View in the Finder, you're probably familiar with the fact that you can use the disclosure triangle next to a folder to see its contents in the current window.

Here's a neat trick with that: If you Option-click that triangle instead, it'll open the folder as before, but Finder will also expand every single folder within it. So you can see the entire contents of a folder—and all of its subfolders!—with one single click.

I find this especially handy if I need to organize the contents of a folder, as it's faster to move stuff around this way rather than opening separate Finder windows. To me, at least.

To collapse everything back down, just Option-click that disclosure triangle again. If you don't do it that way, all of the subfolders will stay uncollapsed until you do. Which you may enjoy if you're all crazy like that.

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Very slick, Melissa.

Sadly, I use the column view as default, so will not be able to take advantage of this little gem. If you uncover similar pearls with the column view, do pass them along.


I always hated expanded List view. Especially on older Macs, It could take several seconds for the Finder to retrieve the Icons for each file/object. It was made worse if the folder(s) being displayed were on a network volume.

Column view is a lot faster for me especially across a network.

Melissa Holt

Hey wab95,

Thanks, will do! I did write this a while back, which you might find useful:

Note that the caveat I put at the end about Lion got fixed along the way—at least, it’s working on my Mountain Lion Mac.

Hope that helps!

Melissa Holt

Hey there furbies,

You are right in that your mileage may totally vary on this one. On my local Mac, even my largest folders expand practically instantly, but if you’re working over a network, I can see this being…less useful. smile



Just don’t try this on your startup disk. I did so and Finder became unresponsive using over 20GB of virtual memory. I had to force quit it to get out of trouble again.

Melissa Holt

Hey lara-a,

Just out of curiosity, I decided to try it—and whoa. Watching Activity Monitor while Finder was trying to parse my request was hilarious.

I ended up relaunching Finder, too, so it’s a good suggestion on your part not to do that. wink


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