Find Any File is Shareware

You may try it out without buying first. Simply download it.

If you keep using it you are expected to pay for it, though.


Find Any File (FAF)

Key Features

  • Convenient folder and icon views for results
  • Can search in other users' home folders ("root" mode)
  • Queries can be saved for easy re-use
  • Can be launched with a self defined keyboard shortcut

New in version 2.4:

Searching on Network Volumes (File Servers) with Find Any File

Searching on network volumes can be fairly slow, because, unless special actions are taken, every file name and possibly other attributes in every directory on the server has to be transferred over the network to your Mac, so that FAF can then look at it and filter it based on your search input.

This can be improved in several ways:

CatalogSearch via AFP

This used to work great but is not supported well by Apple any more

AFP is the original file sharing protocol that Apple used for sharing files between Macs. It was fast and supported on-server search called CatalogSearch. A program like FAF could send your search input to the server, and then the server would perform the search on its own, and only report back the matching items. This was fast because it significantly reduced the amount of data transferred over the rather slow network. FAF made prominent use of this feature in its early days, making it the fastest search program on the Mac for a while, until other programs like EasyFind caught up.

Im recent years, though, Apple has abandoned AFP in favor of the more widely used SMB / CIFS protocol, originally provided on Windows, later adopted by Linux and finally by macOS as well.

Sadly, SMB lacks the ability to perform server-side searches via CatalogSearch.

Many NAS systems still support AFP, though, and if you manually mount your NAS volumes via AFP instead of SMB, you can still have FAF use the server-side search to get your results faster. At least in theory. The problem here is that the NAS systems are built on top of Linux, and the support for the CatalogSearch function is unreliable - it often won't find recently added files.

To use CatalogSearch over AFP, make sure that you search the entire volume and not just a folder inside it.


Works fast but may miss some file names on NAS and Linux systems

The modern replacement for CatalogSearch is Spotlight, which can be used over SMB (and, if the server is a Mac, also over AFP). It not only finds files by name and other file attributes but also file content (CatalogSearch could not do that) if the server supports it.

Note: Spotlight is a technology that provides the means to scan files and documents, and store it all in a database for quick retrieval. FAF can use this Spotlight database locally as well as if supported by servers, as long as you keep the option Include Spotlight results checked in FAF's Preferences and have not entirely disabled Spotlight on your Mac.

Spotlight on Mac servers

If the server is a Mac, then this works reliably. I.e, anything you can find by searching with Spotlight on the serving Mac, can also be found via Spotlight on the Mac that has volumes mounted from the server.

Spotlight on Windows servers

If the server is a Windows file server with "Windows Search Service" and "Windows Search Protocol" enabled, Spotlight can be used to find file names and content on there, too. However: According to my own tests, content can only be found when using macOS Ventura (13) or later. File name search should work on older macOS versions as well, though.

Spotlight on NAS and Linux servers

If the server is a NAS or some other Linux or Windows based system, Spotlight search may not work at all or work unreliably.

If you want to use this search method, read about setting up Spotlight search with Synology NAS and here for QNAP NAS systems. Note, however, that they lack some features, e.g. finding file names for which you know only part of the name.

An example: If you want to find a file named Inhouse report.txt, then you can only find it by searching for "Name contains Inhouse" but not with "Name contains house".

The solution to this problem can be solved with server-side searches, which requires a Pro license:

FAF Pro (modern on-server search)

The most reliable solution for finding files by name

(This feature is available in FAF version 2.5 and later and requires a Pro license.)

It searches directly on the server without relying on incomplete Spotlight or CatalogSearch support. Instead, it uses programs installed on the server, which FAF then invokes to have the servers search the files on its own, and reporting back only the matching items, similar to what CatalogSearch used to do.

File searches for names and modification dates can be finished in seconds instead of taking several minutes over the relatively slow network.

Settings for File Servers

However, this requires that you have SSH access to the server. If you own a NAS or some other Linux based server, this should be no problem. FAF currently detects and configures NAS systems from Synology, QNAP and WD My Cloud automatically, while other systems can be configured manually.

See here for setting up SSH access on your server.

If you cannot get direct access to the server with SSH, this method can't help you right now. I am working on other methods to improve this as well (e.g. local caching of the file information from the server).