Finding files of a particular kind in macOS is a breeze using Spotlight, whether as a search in a Finder window or by creating a smart folder. You can specify a file’s type by using the right syntax in a freeform search or the correct option in setting up a smart folder.
As a practical example, one reader asked how to find all their Photos libraries. The Photos app will list all the libraries it’s aware of if you hold down the Option key while launching the app. You can Control-click any of the libraries in the list and choose Show in Finder. But you have to repeat that for each entry, a tedious process.
To create a file type search, start with the Finder to see how macOS lists a file’s type under the Kind column in the List view. You can also select a file and choose File > Get Info to see an entry labeled Kind. Note the full name, like Photos Library. You can then enter that in the right format to create the search.
In a Finder window’s search field enter
kind:"description name". If there are spaces in the file type’s name, surround the name with quotation marks, like
If you think you’ll need to return to find this kind of file repeatedly, you can create a smart folder:
- Choose File > New Smart Folder.
- Make sure the folder scope to the right of “Search:” is selected as This Mac.
- Click the + (plus) icon in the upper right corner.
- From the first line’s popup menu, select Kind.
- From the popup menu following “is” select Other.
- Type or paste in the full name without quotes, like Photos Library.
The results appear immediately as you type. You can click Save to retain the search or even put it in the sidebar.
This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Tony.
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