File Filter Input

File filter workflows are a fantastic way to create filtered searches where you specify the file types you want Alfred to search and/or the locations you want him to search in.

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Why create a file filter?

A file filter allows you to narrow down your search to particular file types you want to find, making it easier to locate the file you need.

Rather than add every possible file type to your default Alfred results, or trawl through an unfiltered list of all files that match your search term, these finely focused filters will help you find the results you need in a moment.

You can then trigger the file search using the file filter keyword or adding a hotkey.


Setting Up Your File Filter

In the file filter input, you can specify:

  1. the file types searched
  2. the search scope within which Alfred should search
  3. a date range
  4. which fields to search

File Filter example

1. File Types

First, you'll set the File Types you want to search. Leave this blank to search all file types, and specify the search scope instead.

To add File Types, drag files of the type you want from Alfred's results or from Finder into the File Types box. Alternatively, type their UTIs (Uniform Type Identifier) in.

Broadening File Types

When typing in the file types, you can add a specific ContentType or add a ContentTypeTree to broaden the file types.

For example, a png file is of the ContentType public.png, and a ContentTypeTree of

public.png
public.image
public.data
public.item
public.content

The ContentTypeTree goes from the most precise classification (png) to the broadest (content), so if you'd like to include anything that conforms to the public.image ContentTypeTree, press the + button and add a "+public.image" entry.

Sounds complicated? If you're not sure, don't worry about it. You can just drag a png, a jpg and a gif into the File Types box instead to include these multiple file types in your filter.

2. Search Scope

You can specify a search scope by dragging one or many folders into the Search Scope tab.

Only check the box to show files marked as System File if you really need to include these, as they'll otherwise add noise (and seemingly strange files) to your results.

3. Date Ranges

Optionally, you can set a date range (today, last 3, 7 or 30 days, or older than 30 days) for when the file was created or last modified.

4. Metadata Fields

By default, Alfred searches the display name, file name and Finder comments added to the file, which is usually sufficient to search for files by name.

If you need to search further fields, such as macOS Tags (kMDItemUserTags), you can add these fields here. You can exclude fields with the NOT column.

You can also change the anchoring to broaden the search with wildcarding:

  • The "Words" column searches from word boundaries (the beginning of a word, rather than anywhere within a word)
  • The "Split" column splits each word into a separate parameter instead of grouping them together as a single query

What's next?

The simplest example using the File Filter is to connect this workflow item to an "Open file" action to filter for folders only and open them in Alfred.

Optionally, set an "Open with" application in the "Open file" action to open these files in an app other than the standard one (e.g. open photos in your photo editing software instead of Preview.app)

The placeholder title and subtitle is displayed in Alfred's results until the File Filter search query text returns results.

Placeholder text is no longer required, but is recommended. The placeholder title and subtitle appear until you start typing your actual search query text. Without a placeholder, your filter will still work, but will not appear until you start typing your search query text.


Creating your own File Filter Workflows

Below, you'll find an example workflow created to search for PDFs in your Documents folder.

You'll also find a tutorial on creating a file filter workflow on the blog; You'll learn how to create a search for images which then opens your chosen result in Safari, and how to add a hotkey so that you can trigger the search with a custom hotkey.

Creating your own File Filter Workflow

In this example, let's create a file filter that searches only for PDFs in your Documents folder. If you're searching the contents of this folder every day, it makes it much quicker to create a search like this rather than manually navigating into the folder every time.

  1. Launch Alfred's preferences to the Workflows tab

  2. Click the + button in the bottom left of the preferences and select Templates > Files & Apps > File filter from keyword and open. Give your workflow a name and a bundle ID. Choosing Templates

  3. Double-click the File Filter object to make the dropdown appear

  4. Set your keyword to "pdf" and add a title (e.g. "PDF File Searcher") and some subtext that explains what the workflow will do

  5. Drag a PDF file to the "File types" box so that Alfred knows you want to search for PDF files only.

File Filter File Type

You could now save your workflow and be all done, but let's add a few more improvements.

  1. Optionally, you can set an icon for your workflow by dragging a pdf file or an icon of your choice to the image well that says "Drop an icon above".

  2. Want to set the search scope to only search specific folders? Go to the Advanced tab and drag in the folders you want to search in this workflow. Here we'll add the Documents folder, but you can add as many as you like or leave it blank to use your default Alfred search scope.

File Filter Scope

  1. Click the save button.

  2. Want to give your workflow a clearer name? Double-click the workflow in the left sidebar to set a name and a description, then click Save.

File Filter Details

Now launch Alfred and type "pdf" followed by your keyword and you will see that only folders will appear in your filtered search.

File Filter Results

Congratulations, you've created your first workflow! You can now create filters like this but drag different file types to filter only folders, images, text files and more.


Download an Example File Filter Workflow

Download the PDF File Searcher workflow to see how you can easily create your own file filters and search your Mac more efficiently.

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