How to edit a Sidebar search

How to edit a Sidebar search
Mac Tip #481, 06 April 2011

A Saved Search, available from the Sidebar, can be very handy. But what say you want to change something about it. This Tip tells all.

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Need to change a saved Search?

I call up files from a saved search.

I call up files from a saved search.

I saved a search called name-contains-logo and it appears in the Sidebar of Finder windows. That was handy at the time, but now I want to change it just a bit. I could just remove it and start over, or I can edit it.

Everything is possible if you just Control (⌃) click on the search.

See How to use the Spotlight Window for simple searches for some important information about saving searches.

Get Info on a saved Search

Get Info on a Saved Search shows the query (sort of).

Get Info on a Saved Search shows the query (sort of).

This isn’t specially helpful, but the Get Info window sort of shows you what a Search you saved was looking for. The following doesn’t apply to the default searches such as Today or All Images that the system adds to the Sidebar.

Control (⌃) click on the saved Search in the Sidebar of a Finder window and choose Get Info. A Get Info window appears with various information.

Look in the General section for the part labelled Query. For one of my saved searches the Query section showed this: ((true) && (((* = "logo*"cdw || kMDItemTextContent = "logo*"cdw)))) && ((kMDItemDisplayName = "logo*"cdw)). For another it showed: ((((* = "pdf*"cdw || kMDItemTextContent = "pdf*"cdw))) && (true)) && ((kMDItemDisplayName = "pdf*"cdw)).

From that you can see that one saved Search was looking for logo while the other was looking for PDF.

Rename a saved Search

Rename a saved search.

Rename a saved search.

Control (⌃) click on the saved Search in the Sidebar of a Finder window and choose Rename. The name is selected and you can change it however you wish.

Show and edit Search Criteria

To change what the saved Search looks for choose Show Search Criteria from the menu that appears when you Control (⌃) click on it.

The main part of the window shows the search results, along with the various criteria you used for the original search.

Do you want to save this Smart Folder?

Do you want to save this Smart Folder?

Make changes as you wish. Then either click the Save button to save the changes or try to close the window or click on a different search.

If you haven’t deliberately saved the changes a sheet appears asking if you want to save the changes.

Filter a saved Search

Just because you saved a search doesn’t mean you can’t refine the results. This is where my testing got me in trouble, though, so be a bit cautious.

First select a saved Search. All the results show in the main part of the window. In my test, my search showed 223 possible items on a search for ‘logo’ in the name of a file.

Now type something in the text field at the top of the window. In my test, I typed ‘knowit’ to narrow down the search results to files whose name contained both ‘logo’ and ‘knowit’. That reduced the results to 21.

But here’s where the tricky stuff kicked in: even though I didn’t save that search things became a little erratic afterwards.

Sometimes when I clicked away it asked me if I wanted to save changes, sometimes it didn’t and when I returned the saved search still showed the filtered results. Generally closing that Finder window and opening a new one brought back the full results.

Remove a saved Search from the Sidebar

Control (⌃) click on the saved Search in the Sidebar of a Finder window and choose Remove from Sidebar. The saved Search is removed instantly.

The Saved Search folder

While writing this Tip and testing various options I found strange things happened with my saved Searches, probably because I was really messing about. The searches changed, disappeared but seemed to still be there, and generally behaved in confusing ways.

That’s what makes these Tips helpful (I hope) — I do all the confusing messing about so you can just get on with actions that make sense and work.

When you save a Search it appears in the Finder Sidebar, but it’s actually saved in a folder of Saved Searches. When you remove a saved Search from the Sidebar it’s no longer displayed in the Sidebar, but it’s still saved in the Saved Searches folder. You can drag it back into the Sidebar from there if you wish.

To see the folder of Saved Searches look in the Library folder in your Home folder.

In my case, the folder is at this location: /Users/miraz/Library/Saved Searches/.

To delete a saved Search entirely from the computer delete it from that folder.

Share your favourite Finder Search tips in the Comments at the website.

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