Recreating the All My Files Finder List

Prior to High Sierra there was a Finder sidebar item called All My Files. This showed you a big list of all of your documents. This was replaced with the Recents list, which only shows documents you have opened and leaves out files you have created or downloaded, but haven't opened yet. You can easily re-create the All My Files list by making a Smart Folder and adding it to the Finder sidebar. You can customize this Smart Folder to better fit your needs.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Recreating the All My Files Finder List.

Before last year's macOS upgrade to High Sierra there used to be an item here on the sidebar called All My Files. Now I never really used it. I never really liked it. I don't really use the Recents item that replaced it either. But a lot of people did like All My Files. A big difference between Recents and All My Files is Recents relies on you opening a file. It's all the recent files that you've opened. Whereas All My Files showed everything. The difference being that if you downloaded a file or saved it from an email attachment or even created something, like created a PDF from a Pages document, it wouldn't show up here in Recents because it was never opened. Whereas with All My Files it would show up.

So if you liked All My Files how can you get it back? Well, you can create Smart Searches or Smart Folders for anything. So you can create something that basically does the same thing. How you would do that is first go to the area that you want to search. So I'm going to go to my Home folder here. Starting there with my Home folder I'm going to go and I can start a search, I can do a Command F for find, or I can do New Smart Folder. I'm going to create a new Smart Folder here.

What I'm going to do is make sure I'm searching the right thing. So search my Home directory. If I search This Mac I'm going to end up with files in the System folder and everything. Then I'm going to hit the plus button here to add search criteria. The simplest thing I can think to do is just say that the Kind is Document. This is going to include PDF's, images, Pages documents, Numbers documents, Text documents. All sorts of things. It probably includes everything that you need. So you're good to go here.

So let's go and Save this out now. I'm going to hit the Save button and it's going to ask me to create a name. So I'll call it All My Files. So it's like it was before. I'm going to make sure I've checked off Add to Sidebar, which isn't checked by default. So this is going to save this Smart folder in a Saved Searches folder that you probably never access but the important thing is adding it to the sidebar will give you easy access over here. So I'll hit Save. Now I see All My Files. I'm going to click and drag that to the top and if I select it I get the search here.

Now I can actually sort this by Date Modified or by Date Last Opened. If you don't see one of these here then you just want to go to View and Show View Options, Command J, and make sure Date Modified or Date Created is checked so you can see all of these things. Then you can sort on any of these by clicking on it. You can sort backwards or forwards in either order. You get basically what you had before. You can do it in Icon View. Under View you can Sort By and I can change the Sort By to say Date Added or Date Modified. Now I see the most recent thing at the top.

This really closely approximates the All My Files view that you had before. I still have Recents here and I have All My Files. I'm going to remove Recents. I can go to Finder, Preferences, and then Sidebar and there's Recents. I can take that away.

Now if I wanted to create something a little more custom what I can do is click here in the Gear and do Show Search Criteria. This will bring all the stuff back up. So you have Kind is Document. I'm going to hold the option key down and click the plus button. You can see how it changes and I'm going to use the Any of the following are true. Say Kind is and let's say an Image, and then hit the plus button and say Kind is a PDF and again Kind is Text. So I can continue to add different Kinds here but not everything. This first line here, Kind is document, I can get rid of that. Minus there. So it's just going to look for any of the following are true. You can see I end up with a smaller set of things. So you can fill out all sorts of different criteria for things you want to find. You can do Kind or Something else. So we'll just add one more Kind is a Movie. So it adds a few more things.

So this is kind of a subset of all the documents and it may be more useful to me. Then I'll hit Save. Now that's how All My Files works. So now I've got maybe something a little more useful to me than just showing all the different documents.

Comments: 5 Responses to “Recreating the All My Files Finder List”

    Jim Worthington
    5 months ago

    I want to truly see all the files on my hard drive so that I can sort by size in descending order to see what, that I don’t need, is eating up disk space. I tried “Kind is Any” but that shows no files. I also tried multiple “Kind is …” options to cover every kind of file, but the conditions are AND’ed together, so no files meet the criteria once you have 2 different kinds of files. Is there a way to OR the conditions? Is there another way to do what I want (show all files on my hard drive)?

    5 months ago

    Jim: Watch the whole video. I show you exactly how to do that (OR condition).

    5 months ago

    Easier to see large files by clicking on “About this Mac” then “Storage” then “Reduce Clutter” then “Review Files” which opens the Documents category. If you don’t see any files there (Large to little) click on “File Browser” then on “Documents” to get a list of files from Large to small; a column showing the date you last accessed the document with a delete button at the lower right.

    Jim Worthington
    5 months ago

    Thanks, Gary. I missed the Alt key trick the first time through. Unfortunately, when I tried OR’ing all of the “Kind is …” options (except Folder) together, I got “An unexpected error occurred (error code -50) when attempting to Save. I’m on High Sierra, so maybe it will work under Mojave when I upgrade.

    Jim Worthington
    5 months ago

    Ultimately, I found that using a smart folder with the criterion “File size is greater than 250 MB” was what I really wanted. Thanks for the great video, Gary.

Comments Closed.