When I go to search and don't enter any limiting criteria, nothing shows up. How do I show all files including in sub-folders under the current directory in the Finder? The end goal is to sort all my files by date and be able to manipulate them in the Finder.

I tried entering "*" in the search box. The first time I did this it somehow got turned into search for a name containing "*" which showed nothing. A second time I managed to just get "*" by itself, but only about 20,000 of 500,000 files were displayed.

(note: i rounded, the actual number of files shown/total are close to the above numbers but are not these exact round numbers)

  • Are you asking how to get finder or spotlight search to show more than 20,000 files in one listing? Or how to make a command line / terminal search and save that to a text file? I'm struggling to understand how you'll manipulate more than 20,000 files in finder in one action, but maybe I'm not reading your intent correctly.
    – bmike
    Mar 8, 2019 at 11:56
  • @bmike As a work-around I created the listing from the command line and sent the output to a file... the problem is, I would like to browse through the list in date order and open files directly from the finder; as it is, I have to copy the file path from the file I created and then paste it somewhere, e.g. "open <pasted filename>" on the command line, which is too many extra steps for opening a lot of files.
    – Michael
    Mar 8, 2019 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


MacOS used to come with a feature called "All My Files", which did indeed show you ... all your files. But it was removed in High Sierra -- quite probably because showing you 500,000 files (as the result of a live search query) in one window would cause significant slow down.

All My Files was replace with "Recent", which shows you all the files created or modified within 1 day. You can modify this search, or create your own Smart Folder.

  1. Create a New Smart Folder in Finder's File menu.
  2. Add criteria for "Created Date" and "Content Modified", both to be within some all-inclusive value, like "within the last 35 years".

You can then display the results in a list and sort by date.

  • not near my Mac at the moment, but is this limited to most recent files and not arbitrary date ranges? i'm trying to work my way back from the beginning, with some files almost 30 years old.
    – Michael
    Mar 8, 2019 at 16:55
  • i remember when MS-DOS 6.0 removed the ability to see all your files in a single list in the file manager, beginning my "career" of discovering useful features that got removed in newer versions :-(
    – Michael
    Mar 8, 2019 at 16:57
  • It's limited by whatever criteria you choose. I'd suggest you set a range of dates, so before some date and after another one.
    – benwiggy
    Mar 8, 2019 at 16:57
  • excellent, a date range will be perfect... i'll try this tonight when i'm at my Mac. thanks!
    – Michael
    Mar 8, 2019 at 16:57
  • You may want to check out the app "Find Any File". Mar 8, 2019 at 21:12

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