Mac OS X: Mastering the Finder’s “Show Item Info” Option

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Finder’s “Show item info” preference allows you to change the look of any Finder window that’s currently set to icon view. Now, I have to admit that normally I don’t like that view—I think it’s rather clunky.

Toggle icon view on by selecting the button indicated here.


But because I find the extra information shown through this option so darned useful, I’ve given up on my dislike of the big ol’ blue icons. So this tip is especially useful in my day-to-day life—maybe you’ll like it, too!

The first thing to note is that this preference only applies to whatever folder you’ve got open when you change it. If you have no Finder window open when you do so, what you’ll be setting is the view option for your Mac’s Desktop. For the purposes of my screenshots and so on in this tip, that’s what I’ll assume you’re doing. Your mileage, of course, may vary, so you can select whatever folder you like. You silly reader.

So after you’ve opened your chosen Finder window and have switched it to icon view (or after you’ve closed all your windows!), choose View > Show View Options (or hit Command-J).

That’ll bring up a window where you can adjust how your folder looks and acts. (Note that you can verify at the top of the box which one you’re configuring, as shown with the arrow in my screenshot below.) The choice you’ll want to toggle on is labeled “Show item info.”

The benefit of this—and the reason why I’m a convert to the aforementioned clunkiness—is that your Mac will now give you all sorts of information for items in that folder or on your Desktop (and it’ll be different depending on what type of item you’re looking at). For example, you can see the number of items a folder contains:

The duration of a song or a movie clip:

The dimensions of an image file (and that’s so incredibly useful to me that you wouldn’t believe it):

Or the capacity and free space of drives:

Cool, huh? If you’d like even more coolness, be sure to check out what else is under Show View Options (and look at how the choices are different for folders set to show in list or column view). You can keep the view options window open as you click through your file system and the different views to see everything there is to see, and the helpful window will change accordingly.

These are the options for a list view of my Home folder.


Sometimes too many choices are a bad thing. This is not one of those times, my friends.

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Lee Dronick

Don’t forget that in the View Options for Icon View Window also lets you change the background color or use an image.


Tres kewl, Lee!

Melissa, I did notice that the “Show item info” in icon view does NOT work on folders or files that are aliases.

Melissa Holt

Thanks, Lee! smile

iJack, you’re right. It doesn’t do that. That’s a “fun” little quirk, isn’t it?


Wim Tilt

Is there a way to show item info for everything, all the time? As a web developer/designer I need to know the dimensions of my photos and thus far have had to click on each individual folder and select show item info.

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