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Spotlight is one way to find items on your Mac. It's fast and it's convenient. But there are times when you need to perform more complete searches and save those searches for a rainy day. That's when you turn to the Finder search feature, which we'll look at now. You can do this by going to the File menu and then choosing Find, or press Command+F, and there's your Searching "This Mac" window. At this point, it's very much like Spotlight. So I'll enter a search term. Let's say, my name, breen, and here are my results.
You notice below there's a file names entry. So if I want to see just those files that include Breen in the title, I choose Name matches:breen and you see we've lost a result because it doesn't include the word Breen. If I want to go back to searching everything, I click on Name and choose Everything, and there's that result. You can then add another search term. So we have Filename and I'll add Chris, name matches: Chris, and you see just the file that has both Chris and Breen in its title.
You can also search by location. Now, in this case, we're searching the entire Mac, but I could also search the Desktop. Well, there's nothing on the Desktop, so clearly, there's nothing to show. But if there were a file on the Desktop that included Chris and Breen, that would appear in this list. Note that if you've made a sharing connection to another Mac, you'll have a third entry here, so you'll have this Mac, whatever it is that you're working with at the moment, and then there'll also be a shared item. Now suppose I want to save this search looking for, well, files about my hair. All I have to do at that point is click on Save.
I'll title my search. I'll leave the option to add this to the sidebar, and I'm going to leave this location as Saved Searches. I then click on Save. Look what happens. I've just created something called a Smart Search. So whenever I select this, I will see any results that match my search. Now let's go back to a regular search window. You can build searches using a series of conditions. So under Kind, I'm going to choose Name, matches, Breen.
I'll also use Contains. That broadens the search a little bit. Add another condition, and Kind is Image. This will turn up any image file that contains the word Breen, and here it is. Now, if these pop-up menus don't include all the options you want, choose Other. This sheet appears and it includes scads of conditions.
They go and on and on. So for example, if you're looking for music with a certain rating, you can search by rating. If you do this routinely, select the box that appears under In Menu. Click on OK. It will appear as a search condition, but it will always appear as a search condition because you enabled that in Menu option. We're going to close this. There's another way to assemble the Smart Search. Go the File menu and choose New Smart Folder.
Let's create one that's worthwhile. I'll click on +. Let me go to Other. I'll type in Size, File Size, and I'll add that to my menu, click on OK. So File Size, let's say is greater than 300 Megabytes. So, what does this tell us? Well, suppose that your Mac's hard drive is getting really full, you've got a bunch of files on there and you're not sure which ones are taking up the most space.
If you configure a search like this, it will be easy to tell which files are large. At that point, you could choose to archive these files to another drive or if you don't need them, simply throw them away. I'll click on Save. I'll call it Big Files. I'll leave it in the sidebar. Now, when I want to search for my Big Files, I click on it and it will be updated. And that's the important thing about Smart Folders. They're automatically updated. So as I add more files that meet these conditions, those files will appear in my list of results.
Now, before we finish, here are a couple of quick tips. To search specifically by file name, hold down Ctrl+Command+F, or you can hold down the Control key, go the File menu, and choose Find by Name. So this will search specifically for file names. That means you don't have to use the File name menu that appears in your search field. Apple's Search and Spotlight technologies are found all over the Mac OS and in Apple's applications. Not only can you use it in the Finder, but you'll find it in Contacts, Mail, Calendar, and some of the iLife applications.
Third-party applications can use it as well. Wherever you find a search field on your Mac, there's a good chance that Spotlight is behind it. Give it a go. You'll find it helpful.
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