Mac tip: Flip through all your old Mac files with Cover FlowMy iMac’s one-terabyte hard drive is stuffed with close to 15 years worth of files—everything from old email messages and snapshots to manuscripts, press kits, stickies…well, you name it.

Now, if you’re looking for something specific in your mountain of old files, you can always use Spotlight, the Mac’s handy search tool. (Just click the magnifying glass in the top-right corner of your desktop to get started with Spotlight.)

But what if you just want to take a gander at your old documents, or what if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for?

Mac Finder window Cover Flow button

Just click the Cover Flow button in a Finder folder for a scrollable 3-D view of all your files.

Well, plowing through a gigantic list of files can be a daunting task, especially if you’re trying to open them one by one.

Instead, try this: Cover Flow, a visual way of browsing files that’s akin to flipping through albums in an old-school record store.

The Mac’s Cover Flow feature isn’t all that new; in fact, it’s been around for the better part of eight years, starting with iTunes in 2006 and eventually landing on the Mac a year later.

If you haven’t seen it in action, Cover Flow takes you on a virtual 3-D tour of your files, displaying your documents in a scrollable row and twirling each file open as you swipe with your mouse—perfect for anyone who needs to quickly scan through a pile of old photos, Word documents, text files, or just about anything else.

To activate Cover Flow, just open any folder on your Mac, open the View menu at the top of the screen, then select Cover Flow.

You can also click on the Cover Flow icon in the View section of a folder toolbar, or simply press COMMAND + 4.

To open a file you found in Cover Flow, just double-click it.

Want to scan through every file on your Mac with Cover Flow? Click the Finder icon in your Mac’s desktop dock, open the Go menu at the top of the screen, then select All My Files. You can also select Documents, Desktop, Applications, or other popular destinations on your hard drive.

Bonus tip

As you’re browsing through your files in Cover Flow, don’t forget that you can change the order of your documents by clicking the Arrange button in the toolbar. You can sort your files by Name, Kind, Size, Date Created, Date Modified, and other options.

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