When ever you search for a file in Finder it will only bring up user files, eg files that you have created or normally have access to. This is to stop the millions of system files from appearing in a basic search. Ever so often, we may want to search for these files, one of the prime reasons is to search for preference files, normally used to change how an application behaves or interacts with our system. This tip is going to show you how to search for preference files within Finder.
Searching For Preference Files
Searching for system files, or preferences files, is not complicated. It involves setting up the search criteria so it finds what we want. Open up Finder and being searching, if we want to find a preference file it is usually good to start with “com.apple” as most preferences start this way, replace Apple with the company name if you want to find a preference file by another developer.
When the search has begun you will notice a bar within the search window, it will have a plus symbol on the right hand side. This allows us to search by an attribute of a file.
Press the plus symbol. Another bar will appear below. Here we can narrow down our search, or add in options to search for. There will be a drop down list titled ‘Kind’. From this drop down list there should be an option entitled ‘System Files’ if it is not present, select Other.
If System Files is not present in the list, select the ‘Other’ option. This will give you a long list of attribute in which we can search by. From the list find and select the ‘System Files’ option. You can speed up the search by using the search box in the top right corner.
Now this option is selected we can search for Preference Files and other files that are classed as system files. Ensure the option is enabled by selecting ‘are included’ from the drop down.
Type in the search box, within Finder, ‘com.apple.finder’ and you will notice that Finder will return the system preference for Finder. You can narrow down this search by adding ‘.plist’ to the end of your search string.
Find All Preference Files
If you want to find all system preference files and .plist files this can now by done. Within the search box type ‘kind:Property List’, without the quote marks. When you hit enter it will only display preference files. You can further search within this list by typing in a name such as Finder after the word ‘kind’. Note that the capitalisation of the word ‘Property List’ is important.
Using this method to search for system files is rather simple. It doesn’t take too long to set up and it can be used to find any system file. It only takes a second to set up the search attribute for system files and it will always to ready to active in future searches.