I type Cmd-F and call up a search window; my search parameters are 'Name contains "xyz"'. Currently the search is limited to the current folder (~/library/preferences) and gives two results. Thinking to widen the search to see what extra files/folders might contain the term 'xyz' in their name I click the button to change the search from 'Preferences' to 'This Mac'. Now the search gives zero results.

Should not the search on 'This Mac' be wider than the folder-specific one? Surely it should, at the very least, return the two results from 'Preferences'?

Can anyone advise on this please?

Extra context: This is on a laptop that is connected to the Internet by wifi, but has no other external devices connected)

  • When you type Cmd-F in Finder, your default search would be "This Mac" instead of a specific folder. Where exactly are you typing the Cmd-F command?
    – mgiordi
    Nov 7, 2015 at 13:02
  • Just in the finder. My default is to search within the current folder (Finder prefs > Advanced > When performing a search…)
    – RickL
    Nov 7, 2015 at 13:04
  • Have you tried to make your search in the search bar in the HD folder?
    – mgiordi
    Nov 7, 2015 at 13:06
  • Just tried that now (navigated to Macintosh HD, typed my search term into the search field in the toolbar of a Finder window -- ie. did NOT use the CMD-F dialogue). No results returned.
    – RickL
    Nov 7, 2015 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


By default, Search 'This Mac' excludes System Folders

By starting your search inside ~/Library/ you are forcing it to bypass that default, as you are already inside a normally-excluded location.

To persuade it to add System Folders to a 'This Mac' search, you must specify as an additional parameter.
Click the + sign, top right [which then turns into a - ]
Add 'System files' & 'are included' to your search parameters.

enter image description here

  • I didn't know about the default system file exclusion. Thanks for that. But even with 'system files: Are included' set, 'This Mac' still shows no results. This is true irrespective of whether I start the search in the toolbar's search box or whether I begin via Cmd-F.
    – RickL
    Nov 7, 2015 at 13:38
  • You're right, I just tested, sorry - tbh, I gave up the fight years ago & if I want to find something I know is unlikely to be in a 'simple' location, I just use EasyFind freeware from the iTunes store
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 7, 2015 at 14:07
  • I'd forgotten about EasyFind. Great App. But I'd still like to get to the bottom of why the Mac's own Find functions won't show results that it apparently should. Spotlight is clearly aware of the files else they wouldn't be returned for the folder-specific results.
    – RickL
    Nov 7, 2015 at 14:27

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