Searching For Files With the Finder

You can use the Finder's search function to find files by content or name. You can further narrow the field by adding more search criteria, like file type and date. You can also save searches as Smart Folders that will automatically update to show you the latest results for specific criteria as the files on your drive change.

Comments: 14 Responses to “Searching For Files With the Finder”

    Antrim
    6 years ago

    Super useful. I never knew about the ability to select Options. This made clear things that I always found just slightly confusing. Thanks.

    Peg
    6 years ago

    That’s great, but now I use my iPad Air more than my MacBook. How do I do it on the iPad? Please give more instructions on the iPad too, Gary…your videos are wonderful!

      6 years ago

      The iPad uses iOS, which doesn’t have a common file system. Documents are stored in spaces owned by specific apps. Pages has Pages documents, for instance. Sometimes apps share with each other, like some apps can view the photos in the Photos app.
      So I’m not sure what you are looking to do, exactly. If you want to find a Pages document, run Pages and look at the list of documents. Same for other apps.
      As for finding apps, contacts, mail messages and some other things, use the iOS search function (go to the home screen, swipe from the middle of the screen down slightly)

    Rosemary McVicar
    6 years ago

    Very helpful alternative to Spotlight – thanks. I’m frustrated with Spotlight – it usually finds what I want but I don’t know where it “is”. Am I missing how to locate the document etc. in my system? Thanks.

      6 years ago

      Do you mean the spotlight menu? Just Command+click on an item in the list and it takes you there. Command+R after using the arrows to select works too.

        JoeAllen
        6 years ago

        Rosemary McVicar is saying that she is interested in NOT only finding the FILE but also wants to know the “PATH” to the file. Unfortunately, Spotlight does NOT give the PATH. However, FINDER does give the PATH at the bottom of the window.

    Harry Marks
    6 years ago

    Thanks again Gary – a wonderful piece on searching for files!

    Clement
    6 years ago

    Powerful use of finder. Now if Google “search” could be so intuitive … hey, just found your “MacMost Now 833: 18 Google Search Tricks” which is on my list to view.

    To find a document I was entering “.pages” in the finder window and then sorting by date. But all the additional features of “find”, well, i was crawling when i could have been running.

    This has to be one of your best tutorials on an often overlooked feature that Apple was smart enough to embed in the OS. – – – – – Well done.

    Richard Greene
    6 years ago

    Nicely done, Gary. Using the finder is far more productive for me than Spotlight but you introduced me to a couple of finder tools I didn’t know existed – now I’m going to less frustrated when I’m trying to find something I know I have but Spotlight comes up with nothing. Thanks.

    Katja
    6 years ago

    Thank you, very useful! Can you extend the search to files located on a network and not just on your own computer?
    Thank you for an answer to this in adance!

      6 years ago

      You can change the location of the search to include anything connected to your Mac. Easiest just to open a Finder window with that source drive shown, an then search. But you won’t be able to do more than search for file names I think.

    douglas
    6 years ago

    Gary – that’s great – do you have a similar video for searching in Mail?… always seem to struggle to find certain mails. Thanx Douglas

      6 years ago

      No. Searching in Mail is pretty straight-forward. What you find often has to do with your type of mail server and how you have it set up in Mail. With modern email (IMAP, etc) the mail is on the server, so if the server doesn’t return the right results, there’s nothing Mail (the app) can do.

    brad
    6 years ago

    I watched just in case you had any new tips & there it was: ellipses on the + sign.

    Thanks!

    ps Did I miss the part where you show the command/f method? That’s what I’ve always used. I need to read up on spotlight as I’ve never tried to see what it can do.

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