Special character that shows up last in alphabetic sorting

I have a very simple problem and I haven’t been able to figure it out by just trying. What special character can I use in a folder name to make that folder show up at the very end of a Finder file listing that’s alphabetically sorted? AFAICT all special characters end up at the beginning apart from a few that seem to end up in between (™ appears to be sorted as ‘t’). I haven’t been able to find one that gets displayed at the very end. Of course ‘zz’ works (and obviously also ‘Ω’), but for this purpose it would be nice if it weren’t a letter or number.

Try π (Option-P)

Basically you can use any character from a non-Latin alphabet, of which Greek is probably the easiest. Punctuation, symbols, and numbers are normally sorted before Latin. For sorting within Latin you can see


1 Like

Thanks, guys. So nothing instead of letters then? Like I said, Ω (Greek) works, but it would be nicer if it weren’t a letter. Any plain symbol would do, like a box or something.

Oh, I misunderstood. I honestly don’t know how type boxes and what not, though I guess you could use the Keyboard Viewer or something (whatever the emjoi tool is called).

Out of curiosity, I opened Font Book, selected Webdings, copied a box character:

put that in a folder title, and it sorted to the bottom of an alphabetical list view, but, sadly doesn’t properly display in Finder (on Mac OS 10.13.x). What font does the system use? San Francisco, I guess


You used to be able to alter it, back in the Mac stone age.

According to this post on the Apple Support Forums, you can use U1433 “ᐳ” (Canadian Syllabics Po). I’ve tried it on my Mac, and it does make the respective item appear at the bottom of a sorted-by-name list in Finder.

Thanks, Seth. That actually worked great here on Mojave. The box gets a little question mark inside, but it does the trick just fine like that.

Thank you, Jochen. That also worked just great. It’s interesting. I had tried > and of course that gets sorted at the very top. Your ᐳ, however, ends up at the bottom. Right where it’s supposed to be.

This might be too specific for your purposes, but (opt-shift-k) sorts at the end. It’s one I often use simply because it’s quick and easy to type on the standard keyboard.

That’s great. Thanks, Jolin. How convenient it’s readily available right on the keyboard.

Now if only I knew why they chose k for the Apple logo I might be able to memorize that one. :wink:

1 Like

Is there any way to determine how sorting will happen without trial and error?

From long experience with many computer types, files, fonts, and transfers between machines, I recommend sticking with the ASCII set. Nothing else is consistent between machines although according to Wikipedia UTF-8 is close. http://www.asciitable.com/

John Burt wrote: “I recommend sticking with the ASCII set. Nothing else is consistent between machines”

This. Especially if the file might ever be tossed into a sync service such as dropbox. Most sync services have a list of characters that aren’t allowed in filenames. They aren’t always the same list–some services are based on linux (of which there are multiple flavors with slightly different rules), some on Windows. Some try to do ‘transparent’ translation to an allowed character which always causes trouble eventually, some will just refuse to sync the file.

One of the amazing tricks that Apple pulled off in the switch to os x was their handling of the character set difference between classic mac and unix mac. In particular, classic uses : (colon) in file paths, unix uses / (slash). People had often used / in file names because it’s so handy, and apple wanted to keep older files safe, but / in a file name is a disaster for the command line utilities that make up the bulk of the OS. So behind the scenes those characters get swapped back and forth depending on context. You can’t (easily) create new files with a slash in the name now, but I still have plenty of old ones that still work just fine, at least as far as Sierra–I haven’t looked at any on newer systems yet.

I’m not sure about this – I don’t seem to have any problems creating files with a / in Mojave, and haven’t for many years. Both save dialogues and the Finder let me do it. I remember that in early versions of OS X, Cocoa apps wouldn’t allow it, but that seems to have been sorted many versions ago.

But I also use non-ASCII characters liberally in filenames (and always have on a Mac, since the mid-90s), as I don’t see why I should be limited to old and inferior technologies when I’m using a Mac. :sweat_smile:

Jolin Warren wrote: “I don’t seem to have any problems creating files with a / in Mojave”

Whee! so we can, thanks. I must have gotten so thoroughly trained by my cocoa apps that I assumed it had become pervasive.

I use any characters I please too, but aside from sync.com for out-of-region backups via encrypted disk images (so I don’t have to think about it), I don’t do much non-mac file transferring. I do get annoyed from time to time at work when I need to transfer files via thumb drive and absentmindedly grab one of the windows formatted ones.

1 Like

You’ve been able to use / in filenames in the Finder and Save dialog for a while, but in order to not conflict with the file system’s path separator being /, /'s are converted to colons on save, and back to /'s when displayed in the Finder or Save and Open dialogs. That means you can’t use a colon in a filename, and if you work with files from the command line, you’ll see the :'s where you’d see /'s in the Finder.

There are older programs that don’t work well, however, at least in El Capitan, even the Finder doesn’t handle it well in one case, renaming multiple files at once. It truncates the names at the first slash.

1 Like

Yeah, it was definitely a huge problem (and inconsistent) in the early days of OS X. I can’t remember when they sorted it out, but there was a point where Apple brought much-needed consistency between Carbon and Cocoa apps and it’s been smooth since.

Agreed, I have this luxury too!

Which on the Mac has always been the one character that’s invalid in filenames, so I’m used to working around it (usually using a - instead).

True, but I’m a big user of tab-completion on the command line, and not just for this reason.

Interesting, I don’t think I’ve ever tried this. Will have to experiment on Mojave when I have a moment.