How can I create and view multiple hierarchical subdirectories on a Mac?

Stephanie January 8, 2011
Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

This likely ranks as a *really* stupid question , but I’m a brand new Mac user after centuries at a PC.

I like the Mac, except that I’m used to using Windows Explorer to create directories of major projects, sub-dirs of facets of that project (usually by year), sub-subdirs, etc., and then putting separate files in each relevant directory.

I’m trying to get that same hierarchical structure on the Mac, but for example when I open an old PC dir, I get a long alphabetical list, with sub-dirs and sub-subdirs and files all listed as if they were equal components. I want to be able to see and create (!) that old hierarchy.

I’ve read about Folders and Smart Folders and Spring-Loaded Folders, and I get confused. Am I missing something that’s just really obvious?



  1. Mike
    January 9, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Well you already mentioned the main difference yourself:
    Explorer in Windows always puts folders at first
    Finder in Mac OS X treats folders equal to all other files

    Smart-Folders could be compared to the Libraries in Windows 7.
    They offer a combined view of files and folders matching a specific criteria.

    While there are some "System File Hacks" to get the Explorer type of view they are not permanent and I don't recommend them if you don't know what you are doing.

    Your best chance is to get an Application to (somewhat) replace the Finder.
    There is a good article on Simplehelp featuring most of them but it's a bit outdated and not all mentioned Applications are tested under Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

    I have tested a few of them myself with PathFinder ( and ForkLift ( being the best of them.
    Unfortunately both are commercial Apps .

    • Mike
      January 9, 2011 at 12:40 am

      Almost forgot ~ Spring-Loaded Folders it's actually a feature not a type of folder
      When you drag a file over a folder icon and wait two seconds the folder will open in a Window showing you it's contents and sub-folders.

      So basically it enables you to "browse" for the right place for the file during the drag&drop process. In comparison on Windows you would have to navigate to the directory first and then drag&drop the file there.