Use Smart Folders to find recent files and apps

Many people work on the same files for several days at a time: You may work on a term paper, a project, or a presentation, and want to access these files repeatedly. If you store your files in different folders, this can require navigating from one folder to another each time you want to open one of your current project files.

Mac OS X 10.4 lets you create smart folders that can display files according to specific criteria. For example, if you want to create a folder that contains only those files you’ve been working on recently, do the following.

Create a smart folder in the Finder by selecting File -> New Smart Folder, or by pressing Command-Option-N.

You’ll see two lines of criteria in the folder. In the Kind criterion, select Any, or, if you want to limit it to documents, select Documents.

Set Last Modified to Since Yesterday, or if you want to go back further, Within Last N Days, where N is the number of days you want to use.

Click the Other button in the location bar, then click the plus (+) button to add folders; for example, add your Documents folder rather than your entire home folder, since the latter will lead to the Smart Folder displaying preference files and other items you’re not that interested in. You can refine the folders to correspond to where you store your files.

You can do the same for the applications you use regularly. In the Smart Folder’s criteria, select Kind is Applications, then click Computer for the location of the search. In the second line, select Last Opened rather than Last Modified. You’ll then see all the applications you’ve launched recently, providing quick access to them.

Save these folders to your Finder sidebar, and each time you click them, they’ll show the search results dynamically: each search is made when you click the folder, so any newly-used files or applications will show up.

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