Is it possible to let Spotlight find files and directories from all over?


I'm not aware of a solution in Spotlight with(-out) tinkering.

It certainly would add a lot of "trouble" to users with HDD as the the amount of file to index will be too much - hey, after all it's the / directory...

Quicksilver allows to index user defined directories in Preferences → Catalog. You can then define the dept to which you want to descend. Optionally, you can even descend in bundles!

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  • Thank, that looks neat - but shouldn't I chose depth type to be infinity? I want to be able to search all over the HD. – Anonymous Jul 27 '12 at 16:56
  • @Anonymous You can do that, but it will probably result in slowing down your Mac for quite a while. Maybe even crash. I do not recommend it! – gentmatt Jul 27 '12 at 16:58
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    yep, I tried it and it's not good. I think it is best to manually add only the directories you really care about, right? And hey, what do you do in the rare occasion that you look for something from all over the HD? – Anonymous Jul 27 '12 at 17:10
  • @Anonymous Yes, it's best to manually add directories. If I look for something special, I usually know where about the file should be located. Also note, that you can still use the search in the finder window, even in directories that Spotlight does not show. – gentmatt Jul 27 '12 at 17:12

Though I'm not entirely sure about Spotlight, Alfred (http://www.alfredapp.com/) is an incredible app I've come to wonder how I ever lived without. You can bind it to Spotlight's default keybind (Command-Space) and set it to search your entire system.


It may not be exactly what you're looking for, but you can access the backend database of Spotlight directly from the command line with the mdfind command. mdfind blah will search nearly everything on your drive (not just the stuff Spotlight shows) that matches "blah" - in file names or indexed contents, like Spotlight. It's not a nice GUI interface, but for the occasional search for something Spotlight won't find, it's a good built-in option.

There's also Find Any File, which doesn't seem to use indexing, but rather does a full disk search, so expect it to be much slower, but not limited by Spotlight/mdfind's exclusions.

  • That's actually is pretty good - however, I'm not sure it finds everything(which is what I want). for instance, try searching with it 'mdfind DefaultStyle.css' which at least a file in the system in the /Library/Dictionaries/Oxford Dictionary of English.dictionary/Contents (you can check that it is actually exists). – Anonymous Jul 27 '12 at 7:25
  • Ah, good point, I don't think anything inside packages (i.e. .app files, or .dictionary in this case; anything where you need to Show Package Contents in Finder). I did come across Find Any File, which I added to my answer. I haven't used it, but it may help, and does search within packages. – robmathers Jul 27 '12 at 13:25

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