There is not an
Edit | Preferences option. How do I get the files to display in a list view with details, and not as icons?
To change the default for all folders *, Open the file manager and when the window is active move the mouse pointer to the top left of the top panel and you will see:
To change the default view for just that folder, select
*Note that in the first step the default preferences will not be used for any folders you have manually changed view type on in the past. To reset this, see this question then apply the new default preference.
In 12.04 and 12.10 (under the default Unity desktop environment), hold down the Alt key for just a second, and you'll see the options for Edit->Preferences and the rest (top left of the screen).
Maximization will also let you see the pull-down menus, but isn't necessary. The handy shortcut to maximize your application or window is Ctrl+Super+Up ("Up" is the "Up Arrow" key). The same combo but with the down arrow reverses the maximization effect.
In Unity, hold down the Super or Windows key to see shortcuts.
It's generally easiest, though, to use Ctrl+2 to see a list view, and Ctrl+1 to go back to icons.
Open your file manager then move your mouse to the left of the top panel and select 'View' then 'List' (near the bottom) or try CTRL+2.
From a command line you can list what is in a directory with
Its also possible to get a tree like view by installing tree