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Apple Mac OS X tips and tweaks

Date: 5th December 2010

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Save your searches in Finder's sidebar

One of the best features of the OS X on the Apple Mac, and where it probably beats other operating systems, is in its ability to search for and find files. It's search capabilities are excellent and it finds files almost instantly. You can use Spotlight by clicking the magnifying glass in the top right corner of the screen to find things, or you can search from within a Finder window.

Searching using Finder has advantages and you can use multiple conditions to narrow down the results list and remove items you're not interested in. There's nothing worse than a huge list of files and the one you want is buried deep within it. By adding conditions or rules, you can easily list just the file or files you need. You can also save your searches in Finder's sidebar and this enables you to instantly see groups of files. Here's how to create and save a search in Finder's sidebar.

Open a Finder window (Command+N is a quick shortcut) and then enter a search term in the search box in the top right corner. You could enter txt for example if you wanted to find all the text files on the disk:

Finder search

You'll see a list of files, but not all are text files and we need to narrow the search and filter out the items we are not interested in. Click the plus button at the right of the search bar and another filter appears. Select Text in the pop-up menu to the right of Kind. Now you will only see text files. It depends on what files you have on your Mac and you may see some files that are text, but are not text files. For example, on my Mac I have lots of HTML files, which are text, but they aren't the kind of text files I'm looking for. I want text documents:

Finder search

There is an All button next in the filter bar and clicking this enables you to select the type of text file you are looking for. Selecing Plain Text lists the documents (Selecting HTML would list the HTML files):

Finder search

The results we want are displayed in the Finder window and since this is something we may want to view again, let's save it. Click the Save button and then edit the name (the bit before the .savedSearch). Tick the Add to SideBar box and click Save:

Finder search

Now there is a new item at the bottom of the sidebar in the Finder window. Whenever you need to see an up-to-date list of text files on your Mac you just click the link in the sidebar:

Finder search

You can do this for any type of search for any type of file and you can build up a collection of sidebar items that show you your most used or favourite files with a single click of the mouse. You can easily remove searches that you have added to the sidebar and all you need to do is to click and drag them off. Just drop them on the desktop and they disappear in a puff of smoke.

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