The proper way to search for files

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Ardmanz, May 3, 2016.

  1. Ardmanz macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    #1
    This is kind of embarrassing as I've had a Mac for years now but what is the proper way to search for a particular file?

    Coming from Windows I would just search within Windows explorer for the file name or *.dll to find all .dll files.

    However, searching in spotlight or finder never ever seems to find what I'm after.

    Is there a trick to it?
     
  2. vmachiel macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Location:
    Holland
    #2
    Search in the Finder. Add a rule that says "kind is". You can pick from the standards type or define your own file types via other. Don't forget to add a second rule to exclude system files if you want since those are excluded by default.
     
  3. Isamilis macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2012
    #3
    I bought "Find Any File", and always use that, instead of Spotlight search. Just my experience, I have no relationship with the developer.
     
  4. richard2 macrumors regular

    richard2

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Location:
    England, United Kingdom
    #4
    Can you give some examples of the items that Spotlight is failing to locate?
     
  5. Weaselboy, May 3, 2016
    Last edited: May 3, 2016

    Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #5
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202121

    Yes there is. You need to change a setting to allow Finder to show system files. This support doc. shows you how to do that.

    Even then, some system files will not show up in the search unless you search from within the /Library folder the files are located. See my posts in this thread for an explanation.

    For this reason, I just use the free app iFileX for file searches of system files. I don't have to fuss around with Finder settings or multiple searches to find what I want.
     
  6. CreatorCode macrumors regular

    CreatorCode

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Location:
    US
    #6
    I've used FindAnyFile, and liked it. There's also Devon EasyFind, which is free. I would definitely suggest keeping one of these apps around for specific search types.
     
  7. joelank macrumors member

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    Sep 20, 2012
    Location:
    CEETEE
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #8
  9. ocabj macrumors 6502a

    ocabj

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    #9
    man find

    e.g. sudo find / -type f -name "*.dll"

    (sudo so you can check for files in directories you don't have rights to as your own user).
     
  10. Ardmanz thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    #10
    The most common one is the pro tools plugin folder. I don't know where it is kept by default. I search "plugins" either in spotlight or finder and it doesn't find anything.

    Thanks for the suggestions guys.
     
  11. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Location:
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    #11
    I've been using Find Any File for years, very powerful and useful. It's freeware too.
     
  12. blesscheese macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #12
    I guess we are going 'round in circles here recommending the same things, but, I use EasyFind from Devon Technologies (I use their other products, so it was a no-brainer to add this bit of free-ware).

    Spotlight is great for ordinary documents or music files, etc., that reside in the usual folders, but when you need something that will look *everywhere*...that is when I use EasyFind.
     
  13. solaris macrumors 6502a

    solaris

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    #13
    Terminal:
    Code:
    mdfind "kMDItemDisplayName == '*.dll'"
     
  14. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #14
    These Terminal commands mentioned in the thread will certainly work, but for me anyway the issue is, okay now I see the file, but what can I do with it. This requires more typing of commands (to move copy or delete for example) that I have to remember or lookup. I think for the average user, these free GUI utilities are a much easier to use option.
     
  15. Ardmanz thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    #15
    Also can you open the containing folder from spotlight?

    Say it finds the file I'm after but I want to open the folder instead of the file. Is there an easy way of doing this?
     
  16. richard2 macrumors regular

    richard2

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Location:
    England, United Kingdom
    #16
    Yes — double-click on the item while holding command.
     

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