With the new-ish integrated search function in OS X, I spend a lot of time clicking over from “This Mac” to “Documents” or “Dropbox,” since I typically start out in the folder I’m searching for anyway. I usually want to just search the folder I’m in, rather than the entire Mac, since that can be a lot of files to search through, especially if the search term I’m using is fairly generic (“I think it was something about kittens…”).
Yesterday, we dove into the Finder preferences to help you tell your Mac what folder to open new Finder windows with. Today, then, we’re gonna rush headlong back to those very same preferences to tell your Mac what to do when you’re searching for a file.
Make sure you’re in the Finder, either by clicking the little happy face icon in the Dock, or hitting Command-Tab to get to the happy-faced Finder. Once there, hit Command-Comma, or choose Preferences… from the Finder menu.
Now, click on the Advanced tab in the upper right, and choose something from the “When performing a search” pop up menu. If you choose Search This Mac, your search term will be matched to every file on your computer. If you choose Search the Current Folder, like I did, you’ll only start your search within the folder you’re currently in, like Documents, Desktop, or Dropbox.
If you’re feeling fancy, choose Use the Previous Search Scope, and your Mac will automatically use whichever system you last used. In other words, if you clicked on This Mac in your last search, your new search will assume you want to look at all your files. If you chose the current folder in your previous search, you’ll get a search based only in your current folder.
Now you can save yourself hundreds of superfluous clicks, as one Reddit poster, xmuffin, shared when he or she found out about this tip.