Alfred 5.5 is here - Find out what's new

Search your Mac with Alfred

There are 3 key ways to search your Mac using Alfred, with each serving a particular purpose.

Once you know how to use them, you'll be able to get to search your Mac much faster, so let's get started!

We'll take a look at the Default Results, the deeper File Search, and File Filters. The first two are part of Alfred's core free features, whereas customisable File Filters are part of Alfred's Powerpack features.

1. Default Results

When you type a search term into Alfred with no prefix, you're using the default search results.

Launch apps, workflows and use Alfred's built-in keywords - All of the most commonly needed actions are at your fingertips!

Default Results

The types of results included here are set under Features > Default Results.

To keep results clutter-free, you should include your most essential file types only: Applications, System Settings, Contacts and Folders are my preferred included types.

Before you get too keen, don't add Documents and Text Files here; We'll look at those next.

Learn more about Default Results.

2. File Search

Need to go deeper? Press the spacebar before your search term to search for documents, text files, images and more:

File Search Results

Pressing the spacebar (or typing "open") broadens your Mac's search to include more file types, so keep typing or scroll down to find the file you need.

  • Use "open" (or the spacebar) to launch a file when selected
  • Use "find" to reveal it in Finder
  • Use "in" to search inside files (where content is indexed by macOS)

Learn more about File Search.

3. File Filters

The File Filters feature is immensely powerful and customisable; Include what you want specifically, such as a filter for PDFs in your work-related folders, or one for your photography projects.

You can download workflows from the Alfred Gallery or create your own File Filter.

File Filter showing a Folder Search

In the image above, I'm using the Simple Folder Search to for folders in the Home Folder using the keyword "fs".

Another example is the Dynamic File Search, where you can choose a folder, then search for files within it.

What would be the most useful File Filter for your daily use?

4. Troubleshooting search issues

Alfred relies on the macOS metadata index to return results for files and documents, so if you're unable to find files you expect to see, take a look at our indexing troubleshooting guide.

Alfred's built-in File Troubleshooter will help you quickly understand why files aren't found and show you how to adjust your scope, or reindex your Mac.

What's next?

Now that you know how to search your Mac, discover how to search the web with Alfred; Use Web Searches and create your own Custom Searches for quick keyword-based search of your favourite websites.

Or take a look at Universal Actions, which can be connected to File Filters to perform actions on your search results.

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