How do you get Spotlight to search in sub-directories like Windows Explorer does? Here I have done the same search on the same directory - the root of the usb drive SFD223128GB using both OS X Finder and Windows Explorer (via Parallels). The results are different - it seems that the Finder doesn't search within sub-directories. Is there a way to change this?

same search - one in Finder, the other in Windows Explorer : Two different results

  • 1
    Spotlight should search in sub-directories by default. Does it work for indexed folders (e.g. your home directory)?
    – grg
    Nov 8, 2014 at 21:04
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    Yes - it does seems to work for the home directory. So I need to index the drive then ?
    – user99830
    Nov 8, 2014 at 21:09
  • 1
    It seems the problem might be related to the fact that the drive is formatted using exFAT.
    – user99830
    Nov 8, 2014 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


This seems like a bug with Spotlight in OS X.

Spotlight should search recursively in whatever directory it is told to, however after some testing it seems this functionality breaks with some exFAT and NTFS partitions.

If you want to search by name in such cases, you can use 'find':

find /path/to/folder -name "*name*"

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