I am a Windows developer and have just got hold of a Mac for development of apps. I am fairly new to working with "Finder" and I am finding it easiest to do everything I need with the file system through the console. I have had to install alot of software and on the 128GB MacBookAir I want to keep the used disk space down...

Following the download and installations process I went in the the Downloads folder and deleted all of the .zip and .bin files to free up around 12GB - however I am now worried as upon removal I noticed that instead of listing the 10 installation files being deleted it said 25,000+ files. I now look at the "All My Files" folder and this is empty - I am worried that I have accidentally removed all the files from this folder.

Question. Have I removed all the file from this folder like a prime n00b, or was this folder listing all of the contents of the compressed files in the Download folder, and when I removed these the "All My Files" contents updated to reflect this?

Thanks for your time.

1 Answer 1


The "All My Files" folder is actually a virtual folder, using Spotlight to find all the documents, pictures and videos which you may have and displaying it to you in a categorized manner.

Deleting the contents of "Downloads" will potentially remove some documents you may find listed in "All My Files" (if they were located inside Downloads), but does in no way remove every single personal file of your computer.

On the other side, if you inadvertently opened "All My Files" thinking it was "Downloads" and removed all files there, everything what Spotlight can find will be placed into the Trash. Since "All My Files" gets opened by default when opening a new Finder window, it is a possibility. This behavior can be set inside the preferences of Finder.

Additionally you stated that you preferred "console", which I interpret as using Terminal or command line (Console is actually an application which allows you to see log file output) over GUI, which is very powerful and can easily lead to dataloss when forgetting to type certain characters, especially when using "sudo".

Example would be rm /Library/* vs. rm ~/Library/*. The first would go for the system-wide Library folder while the second would use the Library folder of the currently used user. Removing all the contents of the Library folder, user or system-wide, is a bad example, however, both folders do exist and just one character can have a profound difference.

Finally, when one (or more) of your files where so-called application or package bundles, it is normal that you delete one file and Trash when emptying shows the number of each of the bundle files. This would not explain "All My Files" being empty thereafter, but depicts the difference in putting a file (bundle) into Trash vs. emptying Trash.

  • It is A brand new machine and I don't have any files on it. One thing I did do was unpack one of the zip files that I had downloaded in to a folder in the Downloads directory. Perhaps this is what "All My Files" was displaying? I am an experienced Linux/UNIX developer, so appreciate the dangers of misusing the terminal. I definitely have nothing in all my files now, and this followed me clearing the downloads folder and then permanently deleting from trash. I think what I've done is okay and that all my files was merely displaying The contents of a zip file that was located in downloads.
    – MoonKnight
    Sep 6, 2016 at 8:06
  • From the original post, where you state that you're an experienced Windows developer and fairly new to Finder (and possibly Mac), I was not able to read that you're an experienced Linux/UNIX developer as well. Anyway. Spotlight does not dive into zip files. Though it does scan unpacked files if they're in a location to be searched (usually everything inside your home folder among others is searched). If the machine is new without any documents from you copied there, "All My Files" should have been (almost) empty to begin with.
    – Phoenix
    Sep 7, 2016 at 6:51

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