Search For File On Mac

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With the Finder active, display the Find controls by pressing Command+F (or choose File from the Finder menu and then choose Find). Mac OS X displays the controls that you see here. Click the buttons at the top of the list to specify where you want to search. You can choose This Mac (your entire system, including network volumes) or a local volume. I use search all the time to open up Google Docs and Google Sheets files directly. Beyond Spotlight Spotlight is a powerful database of files, but Apple’s attention to the Spotlight interface is. For those with a lot of files, or Mac users badly in need of making more hard drive space, CleanMyMac X is an invaluable tool. We hope you found this article useful about how to locate and copy the file path details when searching for what you need. How to find files via the OS X Terminal. If you need to search for files in OS X, one option it is to use the OS X Terminal application and some of its services.

  1. Search For File On Mac
  2. Mac Find File Cmd
  3. Search For File Extension On Mac

Sep 28, 2020 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

'I saved my Word document a while back, but it disappeared on my Mac. Can someone please tell me how to find lost documents on a Mac?'

If you are relatively new to the macOS system, then chances are that you might encounter a similar situation as well. Although macOS is quite user-friendly, sometimes it can take a lot of time to find a file or locate a particular folder. Just like Windows or Linux, Mac also presents different ways to find files and browse its local storage system.

In this post, we will teach you how to find folders on Mac as well as recover any lost document on your Mac system as well.

Part 1. How to Find Hidden Files and Folders on Mac Hard Drive?

Ideally, you can browse the internal hard drive or Mac or even explore an external device well. The solution to find lost files on Mac would be the same for almost every major version. Though, there might be some change in the overall interface of the macOS. The following are some of the common techniques that you can follow to find any file on Mac.

1. Use Recent Items to Find Documents on Mac

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If you wish to find some recently opened files or folders on Mac, then you can follow this simple approach. The macOS would maintain a record of the recently accessed documents, applications, and sometimes even system processes. Therefore, you can quickly learn how to find lost files on Mac with this approach.

  1. Just go to the Apple logo on the top left corner of the screen and click on the 'Recent Items' option.
  2. This will give you a list of the recently accessed folders, apps, and documents. Just click on the icon of your choice to view the file or application.
  3. Additionally, you can also go to the File menu > Open Recent section to view the recently accessed files. You can clear the history from here or click on any file to access it once again.

2. Check the Downloads Folder to Find Files

Too often, Mac users download something from the internet and later realize that the downloaded document disappeared on Mac. If you also think that the Mac download folder is missing, then consider following these quick steps.

  1. To start with, go to the desktop on your Mac system and visit the 'Go' section from the main menu. From here, you can visit the 'Downloads' folder on Mac.
  2. Alternatively, you can also go to your Library and click on the 'Downloads' section from the left panel.
  3. Once the Downloads folder on Mac has been opened, you can just look for any file of your choice. There is a search tab on the top that can help you do the same in less time. Simply click on it and type the name of the file you are looking for in the Downloads folder.

3. Check the Trash to Find Deleted Files

When we delete something on Mac, the file is not removed from the storage right away. On the contrary, it will be moved to the Trash, from where we can recover the deleted data if we want to. Therefore, if you can't find lost documents or folders on Mac, then make sure that you check its Trash before taking any drastic measures.

  1. Firstly, you need to access the Trash folder on Mac. You can do this by clicking on the Trash icon on the dock.
  2. When the Trash folder would be opened, you can view all the deleted files that are stored on it temporarily.
  3. If you wish to recover a file, then select it, and right-click. Click on the 'Put Back' option from the context menu to restore it to its original location.

4. Search the Spotlight to Find Files and Folders

Spotlight is probably one of the most resourceful features in macOS. Since Spotlight has been an evident feature in every major macOS, you won't face the slightest of trouble in finding any file on your Mac system. The feature can be accessed from the desktop and will let you look for files, documents, internet searches, and so much more in one place. If you don't know where to find documents on Mac, then simply follow this drill.

  1. To access Spotlight, go to your Mac's desktop and click on the search icon on the top right corner of the screen. Here, type the name of any file or folder that you are looking for.
  2. In no time, the system will start looking for suitable content with respect to the searched keyword. Once you get the results, you can just hover the mouse on the icon to get its preview. Ideally, Mac will let you preview pictures, videos, audios, documents, etc.
  3. In order to access a file, simply click on it and it will be opened on your Mac system. If you want, you can click on the 'Show All in Finder' option as well to view all the searched results together.
  4. This will display the relevant results in Finder so that you can find the suitable files and folders that you were looking for.

5. Use Terminal to Find Files and Folders on Mac

The terminal is one of the most useful utility tools in Mac that lets us send direct commands to our system. A lot of users are not able to find any file or folder on Mac which is hidden. In this case, you can take the assistance of Terminal to view the hidden files/folders first. Later, you can go to Finder on Mac to access the data of your choice.

- 3 minutes to read it.
  1. To begin with, you need to launch the Terminal app. Go to Applications > Utilities and open the Terminal app or look for it from the Spotlight.
  2. 2. Once Terminal is launched on your Mac, simply copy the following commands and press enter: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE killall Finder
  3. This will restart Finder and will display all the hidden files and folders on it as well. Now, you can just click on the search icon and enter the name of the files/folder you are looking for. This will let you find files and folders on Mac that are even hidden from the user.

If the content you are looking for is present on your Mac's storage, then you would be able to find it by following the above-listed methods. These techniques will work even if the data has been hidden or deleted so that you can find any file on Mac seamlessly. Though, if your data is deleted or inaccessible, then consider following the next section to find lost files on Mac.

Part 2. How to Find Lost Files on Mac?

There are times when users end up losing their important data on Mac. While there could be different reasons behind it, you can easily find lost documents on Mac by using the right methods.

Why Files Get Lost?

Before we teach you how to find lost documents on Mac, it is important to know what could have caused the situation in the first place. Here are some of the major reasons for data loss on Mac.

  • Sometimes, users end up deleting something accidentally, which gets lost.
  • The change in location of the files can make them inaccessible at times.
  • A virus or malware attack on the storage can make your files corrupt.
  • Chances are that your data could be overwritten by something else.
  • The data can be mishandled by a third-party application as well.
  • The storage unit or partition can get corrupt or formatted.
  • A firmware issue, corrupt update, or any other software-related problem

Recoverit Data Recovery: The Best Mac Lost Partition Recovery Software

No matter what could have caused your files to be lost on inaccessible, you can easily get them back using Recoverit Mac Data Recovery software. It is an extremely reliable and advanced data recovery tool that supports every leading Mac and Windows version. The application is developed by Wondershare and yields positive results in all kinds of data loss scenarios. Also, it is extremely easy to use and will not need any prior technical experience to find lost files on Mac through it.

If you have deleted a partition on Mac or have lost it due to any other reason, then you should use Recoverit Data Recovery. It can help you restore partition data on Mac by following these easy steps.

Step 1: Select a disk

To start with, just launch the Recoverit Data Recovery application on your Mac. Subsequently, the application will identify the inbuilt partitions on your Mac and will provide their list. You can just select a partition of your choice and start the recovery process.

Step 2: Scan the Location

In no time, Recoverit would try to access the lost content from the selected partition. Though, if the partition has been lost, then the quick scan might not yield the needed results. In this case, you can perform a Deep Scan on your Mac to scan the entire storage.

Since it might take a while, it is recommended to wait for the recovery process to be completed. Try not to restart your Mac or close the application when it is performing a deep scan.

Step 3: Preview and Recover

That's it! Once the process is complete, the application will display the recovered data under various categories. You can view a section from the left panel and preview your data on the right.

In the end, you can select the files you wish to get back and click on the 'Recover' button to save them to a secure location.

In some new macOS versions, third-party applications are not allowed to access the logical partition of the drive. To overcome this, you can reboot Mac in recovery mode and launch Terminal from the utility menu. Type 'csrutil disable' and press enter to disable its System Integrity Protection. Once it is done, restart Mac in the normal mode and run Recoverit Data Recovery again.

Part 3. Tips for Finding Files on Mac

If you don't want to lose your data and learn how to find files on Mac quickly, then consider following these expert suggestions:

  • There are all kinds of keyboard shortcuts that you can use while browsing the file system on Mac. For instance, if you have been browsing a directory and would like to go back to the default folder, then press the Command + Shift + H keys. This will take you back to the home instantly.
  • Finder in Mac also allows us to set some default folders so that we can access them easily. Just go to the Finder Preferences to set a default folder for quick access.
  • The toolbar on Mac already provides a lot of options, but you can further customize it to make it easier for you to find files on Mac. Just go to View > Customize Toolbar and make the needed adjustments.
  • You can easily look for a file through the 'Search' bar on Finder. Also, you can sort the displayed data on the basis of different parameters (like size, last modified, etc.) to find files easily.
  • Mac also lets us preview files before opening them in order to find the respective content. For instance, you can just select a file and click on the Quick Look button to get its preview in seconds.

There you go! After reading this guide, you would be able to find any file on Mac without much trouble. We have listed different inbuilt methods to find lost documents on Mac, recover hidden files, and even restore deleted data. If you can't find lost files on Mac via Trash, then consider using Recoverit Data Recovery. It is an advanced and user-friendly data recovery application that will help you get back all kinds of content lost on your Mac. Since the tool is available for free (basic version), you can simply download it on your Mac and use it as per your requirements.

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Summary: Searching for a file in your Mac is easy when you know where and how to look. This blog talks about the familiar places to look from and methods you can use to find your file. Your Mac has built-in features like Finder, Spotlight, and Terminal to help you locate the files on your system.
You can opt for data recovery if the file you are looking for is lost/deleted. A highly recommended software is Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac that can efficiently do the job for you. Download the free software from the button below:


Despite how well we organize our files and folders, it is always challenging to find a specific file at that exact moment.

As a start, it is always recommended to look at a few familiar places. There is a good possibility that you might find your files there. These places may be:

a. Recent Items: If it was a recent file, you could easily find it in the Recent Items list. To go to Recent items, click on the Apple icon at the top-left side of the screen and then click Recent Items.

b. Downloads: Your Mac stores all your downloaded files in a specific folder. So, you can find the photo or a video or any other file you just downloaded from the Internet in that folder. The folder can be found on the side pane of the Finder screen.

c. Default folders: If you haven’t placed your files in a particular folder, then your Mac will put that file in the default folder. E.g., you can try looking for photos in the Pictures folder, files in the Documents folder, etc. You can access these folders from the left-hand window of the Finders screen.

d. Trash: You can find your deleted files in the Trash folder. If you are looking for a file that you had accidentally deleted, you can find it in Trash. You can access Trash by clicking on the Trash icon from Mac’s home screen.

RelatedBlog: How to Search Deleted Files in Trash?

In some instances, you might not find the files in common places. It is especially true for older files that have been buried in the Mac hard drive for a long period.

To make your search easier, Mac has built-in Finder and Spotlight search features in its OS that help you find specific files, file types, file formats, etc.

Let us explore the methods one-by-one:

1. Using “Finder” to find Files

a. To open Finder, click on the icon located on the extreme left on the Dock. The finder icon is usually the first icon on the Dock.

b. In the search box, type the search query.

c. The “name matches/suggestions” to your query will appear as you start typing. If you identify the file, then click on that suggestion. If you do not identify the name match suggestions, then finish typing your query and hit Return.

d. If you forgot the name of the file, then Finder allows you to search by Date. You can enter the month and year of file creation and hit Return. After that, Mac will display all the results of that month. You can then go through the results to locate the desired file.

e. With Finder, you can also search for the file in a specific folder or search the entire Mac. If you are using Finder inside a folder, then the Finder will search inside that specific folder. It can help if you know that the file resides in that particular folder. If no folder is open, then Finder will search the entire Mac.

f. Once you have located the file, you can open it by double-clicking on the file icon.

2. Using the Spotlight search

a. On your Mac screen, there is a magnifying glass on the upper right corner. Please click on that to open the Spotlight search. Alternatively, press Command + Spacebar to launch the Spotlight tool.

b. Type your search term in the window and hit the Return key.

c. Spotlight search will give you a list of the most relevant results on your system. It will also give you web results related to your search.

Read more to fix and rebuild the Spotlight Index on Mac.

What if you can’t find the file?

Finder and Spotlight features can help you find almost any file on your Mac. Nevertheless, there might be instances where you would be unable to locate the files. It might be due to some incompatibility issues with the file or something else.

The good thing is that you can locate these untraceable files with Mac’s Terminal environment. Here you can perform a deep search in your Mac OS, including system files, etc.

Follow the steps below to use the Terminal feature:

1. Go to Applications > Utilities and launch Terminal

2. Enter the command find / and press the Return key to find all the files that exist on your storage drive. This isn’t the best way to locate a file since the command displays all the user-generated & system files. This process is time-consuming and quite cluttered.

3. To search a file in the home directory folder, Enter the command find ~/ or type the command /Users/your system name/desktop

There are simpler ways of searching a file on specific folders via terminal.

4. Type cd and then drag the folder location to the terminal window.

5. Press Return again.

6. Now, you are in the folder which you just dragged in. Enter the command find . -name your file name with file extension—press Return.

The output will be as-

(Free) File Recovery software for Mac

Search For File On Mac

Search For File On Mac

What if the file you are searching for on Mac is not there in the first place? What if you have accidentally deleted the file, even from the Trash folder?

In such scenarios, a free data recovery software for Mac can come to your rescue and recover your deleted or lost data conveniently

For the uninitiated, the free version of the software, Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac, allows you to recover up to 1 GB of lost data.

Watch the video here to see the step-by-step approach to recover your data with Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac.

Mac Find File Cmd

Summing up

Search For File Extension On Mac

Well, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Searching for a specific file in your Mac can sometimes be a challenge. This blog encounters this challenge by describing different methods by which you can find any file(s). Your Mac has Finder and Spotlight features that can help you locate most of your files. If you can still find your file, you can use the Terminal application on your Mac. The terminal allows you to locate your file with the Mac’s extensive command prompt, which does a more comprehensive scan of your Mac’s hard drives. You can go for a data recovery software if your file isn’t present in the drive or feel that it has been accidentally deleted. A trusted software here is Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac to recover your lost/deleted data.