6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

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Recent Items 2   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your MacIt’s quite easy to accumulate hundreds or thousands of files and folders on your computer, but it is often more difficult to locate what you were looking for no matter how organized you try to be. For Apple users, the Mac operating system includes several ways to find and keep track of document files, photos, applications, and other saved content.

Though I have been a Mac user for over 20 years, I am still sometimes have difficulty locating files and other items I cannot remember the name of, or don’t use that often. There are numerous third-party applications like Default Folder X that keeps track of your recently used and favorite files and applications, but there also a few OS X built-in features and hacks that you should know about.

Finder View for Recently Used Files on Mac

Sometimes when I’m looking for a file or folder I recently used but can’t remember their name, or where I put them, I turn to the Arrange By feature, which arranges your files by Application, Category, Date Added, Date Last Opened, Size, or Label. This feature is found in the toolbar of any opened Finder Window.

Finder tools 2   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

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So for example, say you’re looking for an application you downloaded recently or even months ago, but you can’t remember the name of it. You might open the Applications folder and scroll down until you find it, but if you have hundreds of applications, scrolling may take some time. So you might try setting the view of your collection to List or Column, and then use the Arrange feature to filter the collection by Category type or Date Added.

Finder tools 1   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

I have nearly 500 applications installed on my Mac, and surprisingly the Arrange by Category is pretty accurate for filtering applications by categories, e.g. Productivity, Social Networking, Music, Video, Utilities, Finance, Games, Graphics & Design, etc. However, this category feature works mainly for applications downloaded from the App Mac Store. Non-store applications are put in the “Other” category.

Finder category   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

By the way, if the Arrange or View tool is not in your Toolbar, simply go to Finder > View > Customize Toolbar… and those tools to the Finder toolbar.

Arrange By Size

I also use the Arrange by Size feature in the Finder to locate large files that might be taking up space on a small 60GB MacBook Air. Using this feature works the same way as above. For example, open your Documents or Pictures folder and set it to List View. Then select Arrange by Size. The largest files and folders will be placed at the top.

Arrange by size   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

Recent Folders & Items

If you want to quickly locate folders you recently opened, click Finder > Go > Recent Folders.

Recent Folders   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

Similarly, if you click on the Apple icon in the top-left of your desktop, you can select Recent Items in the drop-down menu. It will display all your most recently used and added applications, files, and documents.

Recent Items   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

Recent Items In Dock

If you find Recent Items in the menubar as useful, you might want add a Recent Items folder to your Dock. To do so, launch Terminal (located in the Utilities folder of the Application folder), and copy and paste the following command:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-others -array-add '{ "tile-data" = { "list-type" = 1; }; "tile-type" = "recents-tile"; }'

Hit the Return key, and then type

Killall Dock

Hit the Return key again, and Terminal will do its thing. Now in your Dock, a Recent Items folder should appear next to the Trash can. When you click on it, your most recently opened Applications should pop up in Grid or Fan view.

Recent items dock   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

By right- or Control-clicking on the folder, you can change the list of items to Recent Documents, Servers, Volumes, or Items.

Recent items dock 2   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

“Recents” Smart Folder

Another way to keep track of recent items is to add a “Recents” Smart Folder to the sidebar of the Finder. You do this by going to Finder > New Smart Folder. From there, click on the + button on the left side of the search, and then add another search criteria, as show below.

recent folders 1   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

Set up the type of search you want, such recent PDFs, and then save the search to your Documents folder, or wherever you want to locate it. Before you save it, be sure the Save to Sidebar is enabled.

recent folders 2   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

You can also create recent smart playlists in iTunes and recent smart albums in iPhoto.

Recent Safari Searches

In the most recent updated version of Safari, Apple took out the dedicated recent searches window. The URL window is now also used for Google, Bing, or Yahoo! searches. However, you can still access your search history by first deleting any text in the URL/Search window, and then either click on the Search icon, or press the spacebar on your keyboard. Your list of recent searches will appear.

Notice also you can clear your search history using this method.

Safari Searches   6 Ways To Locate Recently Created Or Used Files & Other Items On Your Mac

Managing items on your computer is an arduous task at times, but using some of the above features and hacks can often save you time.

Let us know of other ways you locate recently used files on your Mac.

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3 Comments -

macwitty

Sorry no other tips as I think you got the best one here. I wish some of this could be used to search mail or do you have some tips for better search there?

Bakari Chavanu

Macwitty, I would suggest using smart mailboxes, if you’re not already doing so. Here’s an href=”http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/five-essential-smart-mailboxes-for-apple-mail-mac/”>article I wrote on the subject a while ago. And here another article “>article that covers some of the newer Mail features. Personally, I think Apple could do a lot better with its Mail program.

Bakari Chavanu

Macwitty, I would suggest using smart mailboxes, if you’re not already doing so. Here’s an article I wrote on the subject, and another article that covers some of the newer Mail features. Personally, I think Apple could do a lot better with its Mail program.