Back when I was a Windows user in another life, I faintly remember a nice shortcut when browsing a directory: type the first letter of the file name you want to be highlighted, and keep pressing to iterate through the rest of the files that start with that letter. So for example if 10 files were listed that all started with the letter 's', I'd just keep pressing 's' to go through each file.

However, something else happens when I do the same in Finder on Mac. It looks like it's almost about to do that same thing Windows does, but when I press 's' repeatedly, it only finds one or two files out of say the 40 I have in the current directory that start with an s. So I'm not exactly sure what kind of behavior that is, if it's a type of shortcut of it's own, but for now it just seems random to me.

Any idea how to do the Windows-like trick, and what Mac currently does when I try that?

  • Do you know the name of the file you want? Just type the name of the file. If you want a file "Service.txt", start typing "S" will select the first file that starts with "S", then typing "e" will select the first file that starts with "Se", then typing "r" will select the first file that starts with "Ser"... etc. Or just hit TAB.... – Fyrefly Sep 4 '19 at 14:47

You can still type S to get the first file highlighted, and from this step on, use the tab key ⇥ to go through all files that begin with s, if s runs out, it goes to T section,


I believe it allows you to perform two-character combinations to select other files.

So typing s - s would select a file starting with ss...

If you want to go through the files starting with s I would hit Control-Command-1 to sort by name then hit s once to move down to the s section.

  • Hmm..that seems kind of useless. How would I then iterate through all files that start with ss? What about one character iterations? – Snowman Nov 25 '12 at 0:17
  • @mohabitar edited to show the way I do it... – Teak Nov 25 '12 at 0:19
  • @mohabitar You would jump to the section you want, and you can type as many characters as needed to get as close as possible, then you use the arrow keys to move item-by-item. – Jason Salaz Nov 25 '12 at 0:21
  • @JasonSalaz in my experience you can only type two characters, though I could be wrong... – Teak Nov 25 '12 at 0:22
  • @JasonSalaz assuming the items were sorted by name though. And I'm unable to type more than 2 characters as well. It moves to a file that starts with the third character when I do so – Snowman Nov 25 '12 at 0:23

I use S to get the first file starting with that letter, then tab repeatedly to step through the rest (and moving on to T when the S's run out).

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