I have noticed that the Finder's Recent Smart Search Folder doesn't show several type of 'app document' file.

The same is true if I create a new Smart Folder with the criterion set to Kind = Document. (You can sort through the results by Kind in a List View)

For instance: Affinity Suite documents, such as .afpub, and .afdesign are not included. Omnigraffle and OmniOutliner files are included. Files from other apps, such as Finale (.musx) and Dorico (.dorico) are not included.

If I change the search criteria to Kind = Other: Affinity, then I get the Affinity documents, so it's not like Spotlight hasn't indexed them.

Does anyone know on what basis Spotlight considers a file to be a document?

These 'missing files' are the native document format for these apps, so they are listed in the apps' Info.plist, under CFBundleDocumentTypes.

  • I don't know how Apple defines document, but I do know how it is defined in current ISO/IEC 2382-23 standard 'Information technology. Vocabulary. Part 23, Text processing': '23.01.05 document: A named, structured unit of text and possibly images that can be stored, edited, retrieved, and exchanged among systems or users as a separate unit.'. I assume that 'structured unit of text' is an important factor for Spotlight as well. May 14, 2021 at 18:18
  • Hmm. Given that some third-party "app-savey-files" ARE included, I think it's likely to be some kind of parameter that can be set somewhere, rather than just using an ISO definition.
    – benwiggy
    May 14, 2021 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


Spotlight will only classify a file format as a 'Document' if there is a Spotlight importer for that file type.

Third-party applications with 'non-standard' file types (e.g. not text, graphics) will need to define an importer for their formats.

This way, the document metadata and possible also contents can be added to the Spotlight index.

  • I thought the bundle info might be involved. But these file formats ARE the apps' native document file types, and are listed in CFBundleDocumentTypes. Is there some other key that flags them as "Documents" for the purposes of Spotlight.
    – benwiggy
    May 15, 2021 at 8:46
  • Yes, I didn’t have time to detail it yesterday, the application also needs to define an importer for Spotlight for each format, if it is not text/RTF/PDF or similar standard format. This way the document metadata and possible also contents can be added to the Spotlight index
    – jksoegaard
    May 15, 2021 at 11:10
  • So it's only a document if there's a Spotlight importer? Yes, that seems to fit. If you change your answer to that, I'll accept it.
    – benwiggy
    May 15, 2021 at 11:30
  • Thanks for the edit @benwiggy! :-)
    – jksoegaard
    May 20, 2021 at 10:13
  • Actually, I've found some document types with Spotlight importers that Spotlight still doesn't describe as "Documents".
    – benwiggy
    Mar 20, 2022 at 13:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .