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How to Use the Search Box in Mac OS X Lion Finder Windows

Mac OS X Lion includes a fabulous technology called Spotlight that can help you find almost anything on any mounted disk in seconds. With the Mac OS X Lion Finder search box, Spotlight can search for files, search for folders, search for text inside documents, and search for files and folders by their metadata (creation date, modification date, kind, size, and so on).

Press Command+Option+F to move the cursor to the search box of the active window.

The following steps walk you through all the features:

  1. Type a single character in the Search box.

    The window starts displaying the results.

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    If you want to change the criteria for one or more of these items, it’s the same as changing criteria for a Smart Folder: Click the item in the Sidebar and then click the Action-menu button and choose Show Search Criteria. When you’re done changing the search criteria, click the Save button to resave your folder.

  2. If the folder or volume you want to search isn’t This Mac or your Home folder, open the folder you want to search, and type your query in the Search box in that folder’s window.

    The default is to search files’ contents. To search for a file by its file name, choose Filename Contains from the drop-down menu.

  3. When you find the file or folder, you can open any item in the list by double-clicking it.

You can also start a search by choosing File→Find (shortcut: Command+F).

Keep these points in mind when you perform a search:

  • You have a choice of where to search.

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  • You can choose additional search criteria as well as other attributes, including modification date, creation date, keywords, label, file contents, and file size.

  • To add another criterion, simply click the + button on the right side of the window.

  • To save a search for reuse in the future, click the Save button on the right side of the window.

Try choosing different options from the window’s Arrange menu — Application, Date Last Opened, and so on — to see the search results presented in different ways.

So there you have it — fast searches made easy in the Finder. But there are many ways to access the power of Spotlight, and the Search box in the toolbar of Finder windows is merely one of them.

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