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In Lion, you have All My Files to search everything in your home folder. However, when you activate finder's spotlight, via command + F you can start searching only by first typing something.

How can I search for everything in one particular folder (say, external HDD) without specifying a search token?

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3 Answers

Under Finder Preferences, in the Advanced view, there's a dropdown list where you can chose which folder to search for by default.

Just set it to "Current Folder", then, you'll only have to navigate to the folder you want to search, and type what you want in the Finder search box.

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It's a Snow Leopard screenshot, but it should also work on Lion.

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That's not what I meant. This option is only for the default searched location when you enter/trigger spotlight in finder. You can also change this while searching with finder's spotlight. The thing is, when you enter spotlight, there will be no result at all when you haven't type anything. –  Dave Oct 2 '11 at 8:50
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

After some more research, it reminds me that finder's spotlight had boolean UI since OS X 10.5. You can filter for "not a folder" all my files for All My Files experience, or with a little bit more filter all files for "all files".

It feels a bit hack-y though.

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You can create a saved search similar to "All My Files" but only searching a specific folder:

  1. Open the folder you want to search

  2. Enter -kind:folder into the search field

  3. At the top of the window make sure to choose to search only the folder you're in. It will select "This Mac" by default, unless you've changed your Finder preferences.

  4. Click "Save" (directly under the search field) to save your search and add it to the sidebar.

  5. (Optional) Change the window to icon view, then change View Options (Cmd+J) to arrange by Kind and sort by Date Last Opened.

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