Running recent versions of macOS Finder, searching for files containing a text string, the results include some apparently-random selection of files which clearly do not include the specified string.

e.g. I search for "chunk", and get six files with "chunk" in the filename, but ALSO a hundred or more other files that do NOT have "chunk" anywhere in the filename. Some of them don't even have any of the letters in "chunk" in them, such as "pdf.js".

Why does this happen, and can it be changed (short of installing a third-party program that can do this ultra-basic functionality)?

I have tried searching for help articles and questions on this, and have found dozens of other issues people have had with file search, but not this one.

I have tried this on two Macs; it happens on both.

1 Answer 1


When you search in Finder you are doing a spotlight search which also searches the contents of files that it understands. That is likely what is happening to you.

When you do your search term right after typing chunk press the escape key to close the menu and note the "Save" and "+" buttons that have appeared. Click the plus button.

On my Mac it pops up a couple of menus on the left side of the Finder window called "Name" and "Matches" you can leave those alone and type in your filename search string to the right of those two menus, which are now restricted to just the filename.

You can save that search in the sidebar. You can also get to that menu by clicking the double right chevrons which seem to be a menu that shows "Action" allowing you to show (or hide) the search criteria.

Not sure if it is possible to *always" show the search criteria, which would be handy, but perhaps someone else knows that particular trick.

  • Aha! Thanks! On mine, the first term was set to "Kind", whatever that means. Changing it to "Name matches" does seem to work. I'm not sure what it means that there is still a top-level text field, that says it is "Filename", though. Hmm.
    – Dronz
    Mar 9 at 22:32
  • "Kind": You might think "type" of file. Like PDF. What we mean by "name" is a bit ambiguous. It can be file name, display name, or it can also refer to the title inside a document (e.g. a word processing file) which can often be different to file name.
    – Gilby
    Mar 10 at 1:02

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