Oblivious or Awesome Tip? You Decide: Undocumented(?) Finder Command

So, I’m an Apple user for over forty years, a (formerly) certified Apple consultant (now ACSP), (former) Tier 3 Support Specialist, and certified technician, programmer, tech writer, and general Mac nerd; and I’m both embarrassed and excited when I learn something new and wonder how long its been hiding from me. I’ve been meaning to ask this in this (and other) forum(s) for many, many months, but kept forgetting,

Everyone knows you can increase/decrease text or object size in most every Mac app using Command-Shift-+, Command-=, and Command-- [minus key], right? Text size in Mail, Safari, TextEdit, et al; image/object size in Photos, Preview, Photoshop, et al; and most third party apps adhering to macOS HIG and UIE.

But, as it Turns Out!™, it works in the last place I would expect it: Finder. Yup.

Open any window in Finder –> List View or Icon View, and those shortcuts will increase the object size as per Menubar –> View –> View Options (Command-J); List View will toggle Small and Large, and Icon View will scale from 16px to 512px. Column view doesn’t have size options, so I strongly suspect this was possible all the way back to System 7 or Mac OS 8/9.

If I ever knew it, I certainly forgot it, because anytime I wanted to adjust sizes for the past couple of decades, I’d hit Command-J, and Tab to the control, then adjust.

I wonder if maybe I used to know it, but the transition to Mac OS X maybe broke it because of NeXT incursions? Maybe it snuck back and I never noticed? Maybe my mind is going much, much faster than I’d hoped for? I asked every Mac nerd in my peer group, and no one knew about it. I’m waiting to hear back from Mssrs. John(s) Siracusa & Gruber to decide if I should feel foolish or not.

How about you? Can you shame me? @ace Adam?

Happy Thursday (:


I did know about it in the context of Icon View, but since I use Icon View about once per year, I hadn’t really thought about it. Ironically, I used Icon View just yesterday, since I had a folder of 20 images that I’m uploading as part of an ongoing Discourse FAQ for another forum I run, and I needed to find a couple within the folder quickly, without knowing what they were named. Icon View, zoomed up, was perfect for this, and I intuitively used Command-+ to increase the icon size so I could visually identify the images I needed.

I didn’t offhand know about it in List View, but I prefer the default smaller size there anyway to fit more items into the window.

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Jeez…if I ever knew about these commands, I totally forgot. They are certainly time savers that I will keep in mind. Thanks for this.

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I knew about the commands for Safari (and it works in Brave) but did not know about Finder. I tried it in Finder and it doesn’t work but that may be because i have the Finder font size set to the max of 16 in the list view. Thanks for the tip, though.

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I’m with you on that aspect, it’s just that I didn’t realize I was in Finder when I hit my F12 key (remapped to Command-=) trying to increase text in another app and suddenly saw my list icons double in size. I knew you could double the size, I just never knew its could be done with those keys. Super handy and saves several keystrokes when increasing the size (say, oh, I don’t know, sleepy, tired yes? Old age?), let alone an ugly trip using the mouse for just a quick increase in size to identify a thumbnail/icon or file name.

I also almost never use Icon view, save for when I’m trying to find – wait for it – icons for use in making folders/volumes look pretty, primarily for the Desktop, but also for the root level of my machines (which can have up to twenty volumes mounted); in that view, it is the one and only place I have enabled ‘Show Item Info’, so I can see disk space stats quickly.

You will find it works globally (in any relevant app, as it comes from macOS for free to developers; but some evil developers – especially those making custom Chrome- or Atom-based apps – who think macOS controls should always be replaced with a crappy, ugly button for which there is also no shortcut.

Try it in Mail.app, TextEdit, Word, etc…

Happy Thursday

I was curious enough about this, and since others haven’t commented, I just checked on two older o/s. Although command-j to bring up the option to change the size of text/icons is there in various views in both 10.13.6 or 10.7.5 and worked in my systems for both, the command-shift-+ (and others mentioned) aren’t enlarging/reducing the size of text in the os versions (in any of icons, list or columns view). So looks like a “new” feature. Though universal access did allow to zoom in on the screen if turned on in 10.7.5 . In 10.13.6 in column mode I may have increased the size of the preview icon , but not positive on this point.