How to Search for File on Mac

Alicia Santos

Mac, Tutorials

How to Search for File on Mac

Searching for files on your Mac can be a breeze if you know the right techniques. Whether you need to find a document, photo, or any other file, the built-in search functionality of macOS makes it easy to locate what you’re looking for. In this tutorial, we’ll explore different methods to search for files on your Mac.

Using Spotlight Search

Spotlight is a powerful search feature on macOS that allows you to find files, launch applications, and even search the web. Here’s how you can use it:

  1. Click on the magnifying glass icon in the top-right corner of your screen or press Command + Spacebar to open Spotlight.

  2. Type the name of the file or a keyword related to it in the search bar.

  3. As you type, Spotlight will display results instantly. You can click on any result to open it.

You can also refine your search by using specific keywords like “filetype:pdf” or “date:today”. Experiment with different keywords and filters to narrow down your search results.

Navigating Finder for File Search

If you prefer using Finder for file management, there are several ways to search for files within it:

The Search Bar in Finder Window

The most straightforward method is using the search bar located at the top-right corner of a Finder window:

  1. Open a Finder window by clicking on its icon in the Dock.

  2. Click on the search bar and enter the file name or keyword you want to search for.

  3. As you type, Finder will display results instantly.

Advanced Search in Finder

If you need more control over your search criteria, you can use the Advanced Search feature:

  1. Open a Finder window and press Command + F.

  2. The search bar will expand, allowing you to specify various search criteria such as file name, file type, date modified, etc.

  3. Click on the “+” button to add additional search criteria.

  4. Once you’ve set your desired criteria, press Enter to perform the search.

This method is particularly useful when searching for files with specific attributes or properties.

Searching within Applications

Certain applications, such as Photos and Mail, have their own built-in search functionality. Here’s how you can utilize them:

The Photos App

  1. Open the Photos app from your Applications folder or Launchpad.

  2. In the top-right corner of the app window, you’ll find a magnifying glass icon. Click on it to access the search field.

  3. Type in keywords related to the photos you’re looking for. The app will display matching results instantly.

The Mail App

  1. Launch the Mail app from your Applications folder or Dock.

  2. Click on the search bar located at the top-right corner of the app window.

  3. Enter your search query, which can include sender names, subject lines, or keywords related to the email content.

  4. Press Enter to start the search. The Mail app will display relevant emails that match your criteria.

By utilizing the search functionality within specific applications, you can quickly find files related to those applications without having to navigate through your entire Mac file system.


Searching for files on your Mac doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With Spotlight, Finder’s search capabilities, and application-specific searches, you’ll be able to locate files effortlessly. Experiment with different search techniques, utilize advanced filters when needed, and make the most of macOS’s powerful search functionality.

Keep exploring and discovering new ways to streamline your file searches on Mac!

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