Mastering macOS File Search without Spotlights: A Complete Guide

2 min read

When Mac users think about search in macOS, they often think about Spotlight, but there’s another way. Use the Finder’s built-in search instead.

Spotlight is Apple’s file indexing and search feature that runs in the background indexing the contents of your files. When you type something into its search field, it knows exactly where to find the information you’re looking for.

However, macOS has had its own built-in search feature for decades. You can use the Finder’s File->Find menu item or press Command-F on the Mac’s keyboard to open Finder’s main search window.

Once you open the Finder’s search window, you’re presented with a search field at the top and several controls to set how the search is performed. You can search your entire Mac, specific folders, or the Network by clicking the appropriate buttons.

You can add search criteria such as kind, date, name, or contents, and there’s the option to save search criteria for later use. The Finder’s search window will display all file system objects that match the set criteria in real-time as you change the search criteria.

You can also use Quick Look to preview each item’s contents once the search window displays its results. Additionally, you can use most of the standard Finder menu items on the “View” menu to control how search results are displayed.

Overall, the Finder’s powerful search options allow you to specify as much or as little search criteria as you like, making it easy to find what you want on your Mac.

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