Complex File Searches Using the macOS Finder

If you use the Find function in the Finder you can perform file searches that are much more complex than using Spotlight. You can add many pieces of criteria to the search other than a single search term. If you know how, you can use logic to combine search criteria and add very specific options. Then you can save your searches so you don't have to recreate them from scratch later.

Comments: 9 Responses to “Complex File Searches Using the macOS Finder”

    5 years ago

    Thanks, Gary. A very useful video.

    5 years ago

    Great video! I've been waiting for something like this for years. Thank you! The OPTION key opens a whole new world. Still have a question -- in the "Name" criteria what is the difference between "is" and "matches"? When I search for, say, the Stocks app, and use "Name is Stocks" the search returns nothing, but when I use "Name matches Stocks" Finder finds the app.

    5 years ago

    Perry: "Is" will find that name exactly. "Matches" will find anything with a name that contains that text. The Stocks app's file name is ""

    Jasper Robinson
    5 years ago

    Apparently the Smart Search Attribute "Document Container" can be used to exclude a folder but I've never managed to get it to work.

    Something like:
    Document not ... FolderXYZ


    None of the following are true
    Document Container...contains...FolderXYZ

    should do it. Adding quotes to "FolderXYZ" doesn't help.

    Am I using this wrongly? Or is there another way to achieve folder exclusions from Smart Searches? [Thanks!]

    5 years ago

    Hi Gary, sorry to trouble you. I cannot open the searching window as you do in the video.
    Clicking Command+F nothing happen
    Do I need to select something before ?
    Thanks and greetings from Italy

    5 years ago

    Paolo: Are you in the Finder?

    5 years ago

    Jasper: I don't "Document Container" works like that. Even though the description seems to indicate that it is the containing folder, posts online seem to indicate that it is something less useful,, perhaps pertaining to iCloud or maybe the volume or something.

    5 years ago

    When I finish my "complex search", what is the keystroke to exit search mode? ESC does not exit search mode, and CONTROL-F does not toggle it off.

    5 years ago

    PJ: All you are doing is looking at a Finder window with search results. You can "exit" the search by going somewhere else or simply closing that store Finder tab or window. So click on a sidebar item or use the Go menu if you really want to keep that Finder window open for some reason. Otherwise, just close the window.

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