I am somewhat new to Mac. On my Windows PC if I type the first few letters of a file it will highlight on the desktop (or window). Yet on my new Mac it will only highlight old documents. This makes it quite annoying if I copy a file into a folder full of many other files and want to find it again. Its like I have to wait for the Mac to periodically 'index' its files before I can search in this manner.

Is there a way to have this work properly?

An example of what I mean:

Say I have a .jpg file on my desktop called abc.jpg. If I have no windows or programs open and type the letters 'abc' rapidly then the file abc.jpg becomes highlighted, making it easy to spot amongst the items on the desktop. No problems.

Now, say, I move a new file, xyz.jpg, from a folder on to the desktop. I then try to locate that file by typing 'xyz' only there is no response - though it is present on the desktop alongside abc.jpg the file does not get highlighted as abc.jpg did earlier. It is only after several days that the new file gets 'indexed'(?) and begins to work with this useful feature.

  • 1
    Can you clarify a bit further? What are you typing those letters in? A search bar or the actual desktop? Same question for the Mac, desktop or Spotlight? As an aside, a reasonably new Mac will index single file changes typically within a second so unless you have a different problem, that wouldn’t be it.
    – mockman
    May 25, 2014 at 5:10
  • I am typing these into the 'finder'. I am not entering the text into any text box or search program like spot light, I am just typing them when I have a Finder window open. The expected result is that the file whose name starts with the first few letters I type will bi highlighted.
    – MeltingDog
    May 25, 2014 at 10:40
  • 2
    That's exactly how it works. Just start typing. Has been that way at least since System 6.
    – MacLemon
    May 25, 2014 at 11:46
  • @MacLemon Yes and thats my issue. That feature is not working properly for me and I am looking for a solution
    – MeltingDog
    May 25, 2014 at 23:34
  • 1
    Thanks for adding the example. That helped (me) a lot to follow. Try rebuilding the Spotlight Index. System Preferences > Spotlight then drag the HD/SSD of your Mac into the exceptions. Close Aystem preferences and reopen it to remove it from exceptions again. Wait for the Index to be rebuilt (which can take some time). See if it fixes your problem.
    – MacLemon
    May 27, 2014 at 10:22

1 Answer 1


Just start typing the filename within the Finder window. It should select the first file that matches. If you want to try again, press Esc and start again.

  • The problem is that Finder isnt 'indexing' new files fast enough. For example, if I create a new file on the desktop then try to find it by typing the first few letters of its name I'll get nothing. It takes a few days for Finder to index the new file.
    – MeltingDog
    May 24, 2016 at 21:52

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