Cover Flow is a visual display that Apple stole from its own iTunes software, where Cover Flow simulates the flipping “pages” of a jukebox, or the albums in a record-store bin (Figure 1-23). There you can flip through your music collection, marveling as the CD covers flip over in 3-D space while you browse.
The idea is the same in OS X, except that now it’s not album covers you’re flipping; it’s gigantic file and folder icons.
Now the window splits. On the bottom: a traditional list view, complete with sortable, arrangeable columns, exactly as described above.
On the top: the gleaming, reflective-black Cover Flow display. Your primary interest here is the scroll bar. As you drag it left or right, you see your files and folders float by and flip in 3-D space. Fun for the whole family!
The effect is spectacular, sure. It’s probably not something you’d want to set up for every folder, though, because browsing is a pretty inefficient way to find something. But in folders containing photos or movies (that aren’t filled with hundreds of files), Cover Flow can be a handy and satisfying way to browse.
Figure 1-23. The top half of a Cover Flow window is an interactive, scrolling “record bin” full of your own stuff. It’s especially useful for photos, PDF files, Office documents, and text documents. When a PDF or presentation document comes up here, you can click the arrow buttons to page through it; for a movie, click the little button to play the video, right in place.
Multipage documents, presentation files, movies, and sounds are special. When you point to one, you get either the button (to play a movie or sound) or and arrow buttons (to flip through a PDF, Pages, PowerPoint, or Keynote document), exactly as you can with icons in icon view.
You can navigate with the keyboard, too. Any icon that’s highlighted in the list view (bottom half of the window) is also front and center in the Cover Flow view. Therefore, you can use all the usual list-view shortcuts to navigate both at once. Use the and keys, type the first few letters of an icon’s name, press Tab or Shift-Tab to highlight the next or previous icon alphabetically, and so on.
Cover Flow shows whatever the list view shows. If you expand a flippy triangle to reveal an indented list of what’s in a folder, then the contents of that folder become part of the Cover Flow.
The previews are actual icons. When you’re looking at a Cover Flow minidocument, you can drag it with your mouse—you’ve got the world’s biggest target—anywhere you’d like to drag it: another folder, the Trash, wherever.
You can use the Arrange and Sort commands. Yes, you can put the list-view portion of the window into tidy groupings—and sort within those groupings—just as described starting on Use as Defaults.