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

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.

New in version 2.3.2:

  • Fixes search issues around macOS Catalina, Big Sur and Monterey.
  • Can now search on new Google Drive.
  • Search for inodes and diacritics-insensitive.
  • Customizable Dock icon (ctrl-click on it!).

New in version 2.3.1:

  • Fixes some critical search issues with macOS Catalina and El Capitan.

New in version 2.3:

  • Native Apple Silicon (M1) code.
  • Search for Tags
  • Search for and display Date Last Opened and Date Added
  • Works with Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, PopClip etc.

New in version 2.2.1:

  • Fixes a potential crash.
  • The Find window doesn't get excessively wide any more.

New in version 2.2:

  • Ready for macOS Big Sur.
  • You can now save and re-open the results.

New in version 2.1.1:

  • Icons in Preview Grid should look correct again.
  • Does not remove Volumes from Login Items any more.

New in version 2.1:

  • Includes Spotlight for even faster results.
  • Many bug fixes.

New in version 2.0:

  • FAF is now a 64 bit app.
  • Shows results as soon as they're found.
  • Can search by Kind (Images, Audio, etc.).
  • Can search with regular expressions.

New in version 1.9.4:

  • Compatible with version 2 in regards to preferences and .faf files.
  • Several bug fixes.

Support (Find Any File) Trouble Shooting | Known Problems | FAQs | More Hints

Trouble Shooting Hide all | Show all

I need help enabling Full Disk Access.

When I try to update FAF, it fails with the message "Failed to change owner & group".

The full error message would be close to: "Failed to change owner & group for Find Any File.app with owner ID … and group 20.".

This can happen if FAF was installed or updated from a different user account than the one you're trying to update it from now, e.g. when you previously updated FAF when it ran in root mode.

The easiest solution would be to simply trash the app and re-download it from this site (use the big green "Download" button on the right).

Alternatively, duplicate the app in Finder (by selecting the app, then typing cmd+D), then trash the original and rename the duplicate from "Find Any File copy.app" back to "Find Any File.app". After that, the update should work.

Find Any File isn't responsive or crashes at launch.

  • The crash may already be fixed in the latest beta (prerelease) version. Check the beta page and see if that version resolves the issue.
  • Some users experience a slow start of FAF. It can take a minute before it's usable. If that happens, please check your Login Items (in System Preferences, Users & Groups) for any missing items (they'll have a generic icon), and remove them.
  • If you get a window shown by FAF that mentions Internal Error (exception) and creates a text file on your desktop that contains the textUITools.NewPictureFromPicWithMask, then you may be running an outdated Mac OS X Snow Leopard version. Please update to at least 10.6.4, that should fix it.
  • If you get a crash saying Find Any File was quit unexpectedly, you may have a conflicting Input Manager or Input Method installed, such as SIMBL or Spell Catcher. While these are not generally harmful, they are, regrettably, causing problems for Find Any File. To keep using FAF, check the folders named InputManagers and Input Methods in your startup disk's Library folder and remove their contents temporarily, then reboot, to see if FAF works then. Unfortunately, it's out of my control to fix FAF in this regard. For more detailed instructions on how to go about sorting out the offending software causing the crash, you may follow this guide of mine: How To Identify and Disable software extensions on OS X that cause other Apps to crash
  • There also used to be a issue caused by an update of Airfoil from Rogue Amoeba in August 2011. You should have updated Airfoil by now. See Rogue Amoeba's article on this topic.

FAF does not display all the files it should have found.

  • First, make sure that the options for Invisibles, Package Contents and Trashed in the Results window are all set to Show and not to Hide or to Only.
  • Next, if the volume you search is a network server (NAS) volume, check if it's mounted as AFP instead of SMB (ctrl-click on the volume's icon in Finder and choose "Information" from the menu to get the Info window).
    If it's AFP (identified by the prefix "afp://" under Server or by "AppleShare" under Format), then you are dealing with a known bug with Linux / NAS drivers related to CatSearch. In this case, either re-mount the volume in SMB format, or add the volume to the "Special Folders" (find it in FAF's menu or type cmd-shift-,), with checking its "Slow" box, in order to prevent FAF from using the disfunctional CatSearch function on that volume.
  • Another, quite rare, reason why some files may not be found by FAF is that you are finding hard linked files when searching an entire disk (volume). An example would be some SDK files inside Apple's Xcode.app
    In this case, only one instance of the several hard links will be found.
    To verify this, force a "slow" search, e.g. by holding down the Option (alt) key when clicking on the "Name" popup menu, then choose "Slow mode", setting it to "Yes". If the search then finds more files, these extra files should be the other hard links to the files the fast search had found.

I like to purchase FAF in the App Store, but it says that it's already installed.

This can happen if you have other versions of FAF left on your startup disk.
To find them, you can download my tool Locate App By Bundle ID, letting it search for "org.tempel.findanyfile". Then move the found app to the Trash. Repeat these steps until no more FAF versions are found.

I have purchased FAF in the App Store, but I keep getting the purchase reminder.

Update FAF to version 1.6 or later via the App Store, and launch that new version of Find Any File once. After that, you can replace the App Store version with the version from my website here and you won't get this reminder any more. There is also another way around this - just send me an e-mail (see below) and I'll give you instructions to turn off the reminder.

I cannot search in Time Machine backups.

Find Any File can search on Time Machine (TM) volumes just like on every other volume.

However, if Time Machine is on a networked drive (Time Capsule, NAS, Drobo, etc.), your Mac usually hides the actual Time Machine volume. That makes it difficult for Find Any File to access it.

To search such a hidden TM volume, you need to mount it explicitly first: Open the network drive that contains your TM volume. At the root of that disk, there is a file (package) that ends in ".sparsebundle". Double click that to open it. That will mount the TM volume. Now you can search on it with FAF.

When searching Time Machine backups, the number of found items varies for the same search criteria.

Time Machine (TM) backups use so-called "folder hardlinks" to alias unchanged data between multiple backups: If TM performs several backups a day, most files and folder contents do not change, and therefore TM does simply link to the same files and folders from within different backup times.

When you search the entire disk (which uses the fast "CatSearch" mode), then every real file will only be found once, even if it's hardlinked multiple times. This means that you find every different file only once.

However, if you traverse the directory tree by choosing the Time Machine folder (leading to a slow search), every - even identical - version of every backup will be searched, and the same file will be found multiple times as it resides under every backup that TM has performed.

So, if you find dozens of files when searching a folder on your TM disk, and compare that to the few files you find when searching the entire disk, you'll see that the set of many files actually has a lot of duplicates, just in different places, equalling the few distinct files that are found searching the entire disk in fast mode.

FAF does not find my documents in iCloud.

This is a known problem with versions 1.x when you're searching the entire disk (fast mode). Either search only your home folder (or, even better, go inside the ~/Library/Mobile Documents folder if you can locate it), or update to version 2, where this has been fixed.

In Google Drive, search is very slow or fails to find files, even.

Google Drive has changed its internal workings in 2021 in order to enable "stream mode", which allows you to save space on your Mac by keeping the files only in the cloud but not on your Mac.

However, this new stream mode impacts the performance of search, because accessing the Google Drive contents requires frequent access over the much slower internet.

You can avoid this by opening Google Drive's settings, switching from Stream to Mirror mode. Once you're using Mirror mode, your Google Drive files will appear in a regular folder on your Mac's disk.

Once you're using Mirror mode, do not choose the "on GoogleDrive (slow)" to search these files with FAF, because that folder is then practically empty, apart from an Alias pointing to the actual folder with the files. Instead, search the folder where the mirrored files are appearing, or just search the entire volume that contains the mirrored folder. Of course, using the Mirror mode means that all files will be stored also on your Mac, so you will have to have the space available for them.

My main volume (e.g. "Macintosh HD") is listed twice, once with "(Data)". Why?

From macOS 10.15 on, the Apple-provided System files are stored in a separate volume that cannot be altered, to protect against accidental deletion of important files and against malicious software.

Internally, there are now two volumes: The one with the System files and the one that contains all the files added by you or by other programs (the "Data" volume). The Finder and other parts of the System make it appear as if they're one and the same, but FAF sees them as separate volumes, and therefore can also search them separately.

This has advantages: Usually, you're looking for non-System files, e.g. those installed by other programs or by yourself. Now, if you choose to only search this Data volume, the search will be much faster. Only if you really look for an Apple file, maybe to look at its contents, or modify it for the first time (which will then automatically store a copy in the Data volume and let you edit that copy) you'll need to search the macOS system volume, too.

Therefore, by default, I suggest you search only the "(Data)" volume, and thereby you'll find your own files much faster than in previous macOS versions where the search always included all the system files.

In root mode, the keyboard uses the wrong language / layout.

This happens because macOS (since 10.14 Mojave) does not share the keyboard layout setup between the regular and the root user.

To fix this, you need to set up the keyboard for the root user once, too. Follow these steps:

  • If you have the System Preferences app open, quit it.
  • Open Terminal.app (it's inside Applications / Utilities).
  • Copy the following line and paste it into the Terminal window, then press Return in Terminal:
    sudo /Applications/System\ Preferences.app/Contents/MacOS/System\ Preferences

    Enter your user's Admin password and press Return. This should open the System Preferences for the root user.
  • Switch to the System Preferences window, go to Keyboard, Input Sources.
  • Click the [+] button to add your language and keyboard layout.
  • Check the option Show Input menu in menu bar and uncheck the other option (Automatically switch…).
  • Go into the menu bar, click on the flag (which probably shows a U.S. flag) and switch it to your language.
  • Now you can quit System Preferences and Terminal. Next time you use FAF in root mode, the keyboard layout should be what you have just set it to.

Known Problems Hide all | Show all

It doesn't take seconds, it takes minutes to search a disk.

Several possibilities:

  • You're searching on a Time Machine volume.

    Time Machine backups have an unusually large file directory: They easily have ten times more file records on it than the average disk. If you do not really need to search your backups, you could exclude your Time Machine volumes by adding them in the Preferences, behind the Special Folders button. That way, they will not be searched when you choose to search on all disks.

  • You're searching on a network volume.

    If you have mounted the network volume via the SMB protocol, try instead using the AFP protocol if the server supports it. That will allow the server to search itself, sending only the matching files over the network, thereby reducing traffic and speeding things up significantly. Be aware, though, that some NAS systems support AFP but have a malfunctioning "CatSearch" function, so that you should avoid AFP or Fast Search on them. See what works for you. For more defails see here.

Certain folders and apps are not found (localized names).

Apple has translated some of their apps and folders. For instance, the desktop folder is called "Schreibtisch" in German, and the program "Disk Utility" is called "Festplattendienstprogramm" in German.

Find Any File is not aware of these translations and thus cannot find these items if you enter their localized names.

To find out their original name, drag their icon into Find Any File's search field, where you'd enter the name. That will reveal their true name as Find Any File sees it.

The program does not find anything on my desktop or in my home folder.

This happens if you are using FileVault on OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) to secure your personal data (not an issue on 10.7 Lion any more). This effectively turns your home folder into a (somewhat hidden) separate disk, and Find Any File is not aware of this yet. To work around this, you need to make sure the FileVault is searched separately. It appears in the Disks list as its own item, named after your account's short name.

FAQ Hide all | Show all

What are the system requirements (supported OS versions)?

FAF runs on all Intel and PowerPC Macs starting with OS X 10.4.1, including Mountain Lion.

The big green Download button gives you the Intel-only version. To run on PowerPC Macs, you need to use the other download link below the big button.

What does it mean when "(slow)" appears?

If you read the FAQ further down, you'll see that some volumes (disks) support the Fast Search operation. That's what makes FAF so fast.
Volumes that do not support this operation are marked with "(slow)". Expect long times when searching on those.
Similarly, if you search a specific folder instead of the entire volume/disk, "(slow)" appears to indicate that this may be slower than letting FAF search the entire volume.

If the volume is on a network server or NAS, see if you can mount it via the "afp" (Apple) protocol, avoiding the "smb" (Windows) protocol, as only AFP supports the Fast Search operation.

Why do some items, e.g. applications, show only "-" for their size?

Such items, usually called Packages or Bundles, are actually folders that are specially treated by the Finder. To see their sizes, ensure that you have the Preference option Calculate Size of Applications and Packages checked.

When I search for "File Size equals 0" I still get items listed with a larger size.

Generally, some files, mainly older ones, are made up of two so-called forks. While one fork, the data fork, contains the actual file data, there is another fork, the resource fork, which contains meta data that's often not really important but provides additional information specific to Mac OS, while it can be ignored on other systems, e.g. Windows and Linux.

Now, when you search for "File Size", you get to specify the data fork's size only. But the results list shows the files' total sizes, i.e. the sum of both forks, if available. This means that the results are still correct, as their data fork size is indeed zero, while they may have also a non-empty resource fork.

To find files where both the data and the resource fork are empty, add another criterion, e.g. for "Name", and then click on the "Name" popup menu while holding down the Option (alt) key. That will open the menu showing additional choices that are usually hidden. One of the new choices is "Resource Size". Choose that, and set it also to "equals 0". Now you should have two criteria, one "File Size equals 0" and one "Resource Size equals 0", giving you the desired result.

To see the specific fork sizes, enable the Show Tooltips option under the View menu and then hold the mouse over a found item for two seconds.

When opening a folder by clicking its triangle, I like it to open all deeper levels as well.

There is a solution to this, and it's the same the Finder and many other applications offer in their hierarchical list views: Hold down the Option (alt) key when clicking the triangle. That will affect all the folder's contents, opening or closing them all at once.

There used to be options to search for File Type and Creator Code. Where are they? (Expert Mode)

FAF hides these options now by because because they're rarely used nowadays and caused confusion for new users not understanding what this old "file type" was about.

If you understand that these are hidden 4-letter codes and have nothing to do with what the "Kind" column shows, you can enable the expert mode in FAF. To do that, issue the following command in Terminal: defaults write org.tempel.findanyfile "Mode.Expert" -bool YES

Alternatively, hold down the Option key while clicking on the Choices button to reveal the expert options.

Can you add more search criteria, e.g. logical combinations ("and", "or")?

You can add multiple name criteria. They all must be met to find a file, giving you an "and" operator.

While there is no full-featured "or" operator, you can search for alternative file name parts by using "Name contains either of …", entering the alternatives separated by a space.

What can the root mode (Find All) find that the normal Find won't?

The root mode is mainly useful when the Mac has multiple user accounts configured and you like to find files in every user's private folders. Without the root mode, you won't get to look at other users' files.

If you're the only user on the computer, then using the root search mode is hardly ever necessary, as whilst Mac OS X does protect quite a few system files, it doesn't usually hide them from view. However, there may be software that hides files on purpose from you, and that's where the root mode might help you reveal those items, too.

If you prefer to perform all your searches in this root mode, see the manual: Automating "Find All"

Can you add searching in specific folders instead of searching always an entire disk?

Yes, version 1.5 added this feature. Simply drop the folder to search onto the menu where you can select where to search.

I had no idea that searching an entire volume was particularly fast.

Mac OS provides a "fast search over entire volume" operation for over 20 years. Yet many file search tools do not use it, because it's not well-known. It used to be called CatalogSearch or CatSearch, and since macOS 10.13 it's just searchfs() (the older CatSearch function is not working on the new APFS volumes any more).

Its advantage is that the entire disk can be search for certain criteria, such as name, dates and size on the operating system level. This is usually faster than if the searching app has to iterate over every folder and look at each file. On HFS+ (Mac OS Extended) formatted disks, this could search an entire volume in 5 seconds instead of taking minutes. However, in APFS, Apple's replacement for HFS+, this is not necessarily the case any more. For details, see the question below about APFS.

What kind of disks support "Fast Search" (CatSearch)?

That'd be any local (i.e. internal and directly attached) disk in the HFS+ (also called "Mac OS Extended") or APFS format, and network disks that are using the "AFP" protocol.

However, Windows servers, and OSX/Linux/NAS servers mounted using the SMB protocol do not support the Fast Search mode.

As a general rule: If "(slow)" appears with the volume name, or during search, then the Fast Search operation is not in effect.

Many NAS units support AFP nowadays, and they do a fairly good job performing a local (i.e. on the server) search if you ask FAF to search the entire disk.

If you connect to a network volume served by another Mac, you'll get the Fast Search option only if the mounted volume on your Mac shows the entire volume (disk) from the server, but not if it's showing only a folder from the server's disk (e.g. a user's folder).

In theory, other volume formats and network protocols could support Fast Search, too. For instance, the Joliet File System for Mac OS 7-9 I wrote long ago did support this on CD-ROMs formatted in ISO 9660 and Joliet format.
And NTFS would be suited for this as well due to the way its directory is stored in one large "file" (in the "$MFT"), just like the so-called catalog file in HFS. It's all a question of writing the additional code for OS X disk drivers and implementing, in case of network storage (NAS), the AFP protocol fully. But who'd pay for that? I could do it, if you paid me. Will cost a bit, though. :)

Since High Sierra or Mojave, searching has become very slow (on APFS volumes).

If you've used FAF before upgrading to macOS 10.13 or later, searching your startup disk with FAF did probably take only a few seconds. But with upgrading to a recent macOS system, it's taking about 5-6 times longer.

When you upgraded macOS, Apple did forcibly convert your startup disk from the older HFS+ into the APFS format. This has a few advantages, such as better space management and overall efficiency. However, "fast searching" has suffered:

This reduction in search performance is caused by Apple APFS file system driver software, i.e. FAF can't do anything about it. I have contacted Apple about this problem but have gotten no response. I suspect Apple does not seem this performance decrease relevant because hardly anyone uses this Fast Search operation (in fact, Spotlight does use it in some cases, which is the sole reason APFS supports it at all).

What can you do?

  • If you only need to search inside a particular folder, then just select that folder (e.g. drop the folder from the Finder onto the popup menu for choosing the search location) - which is the opposite of what I recommend for disks in the older HFS+ format.
  • Converting your startup disk back to HFS+ format would also help. However, there's no easy way to do that. But you could at least keep any other disks (volumes) formatted in HFS+ and not convert them to APFS if you want to keep searching them fast with FAF.

What will I do? I am looking into other options, including caching the previously found items, so that at least those are quickly found again. This will have to wait for a later version, though.

Entering commands in Terminal.

To enter commands in Terminal, find the program "Terminal", which is inside the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder. If you open (double click) Terminal, it will show you a window with a so-called prompt (e.g: bobs_mac:~ bob$) after which you can type commands, line by line. To enter a command, it's usually best to copy the command text into the clipboard, and then paste it into Terminal by typing cmd+V. After entering the command, press the Return key to execute the command. If all went well, the Terminal should simply show a new prompt line, without any error messages. After than you can quit Terminal.

Can you improve content search, such as looking for words or showing where the results appear in a text file?

Sorry, no. FAF is not well designed for content search. Adding more control over searching for content is therefore not planned. I will try to add searching for text inside compressed files (including PDFs and Word files), however.

Alternatively, I recommend BBEdit, which provides a large set of text searching options, even in the free version, as well as HoudahSpot (which does not search everywhere, though).

Hints and Tips Hide all | Show all

Application icons that better match Big Sur's squircle theme.

If you prefer to see an app icon that meets the more recent macOS design, you can choose from these:

Big Sur blue icon Big Sur orange icon

Download here. The zip archive includes instructions.

Alternatively, if you only care to have a fitting icon in the Dock, version 2.3.2 will make this easier: Ctrl-click on FAF's icon in the dock – there you can then choose a different icon.

Even better, you can add your own Dock icons. First, open FAF's Application Support folder, e.g. by activating Finder, typing cmd-shift-G and pasting:

~/Library/Application Support/Find Any File
Then create a new folder and name it "Dock". Now you can place icons file (thos ending in ".icns") into the Docks folder. Next time you launch FAF, these icons will be added to the choices for the Dock icon. You can find several user-contributed icons at macosicons.com.

Initiate search from programs such as Alfred, Keyboard Maestro and PopClip.

Disable the alternating row colors in results.

When listing the found items, the rows alternate in color between white and light blue. If you prefer them all in the same white color, enter the following command in Terminal:

defaults write org.tempel.findanyfile AlternatingRowColor -dict r 255 g 255 b 255

Note: Since version 2 of FAF, any other values have no effect, i.e. you cannot change the alternating color to a different one, but only turn it off entirely.

Control what happens when nothing or something is found.

You can decide what kind of notification you like to get when nothing is found (only available from v1.8.8 until 1.9.4 and again since v2.3.2):

  • A visual notification through OS X's Notification Center, along with a sound (only in OS X 10.8 and later).
  • A system beep sound.
  • No notification at all.

To disable using the Notification Center, enter the following command in Terminal:

defaults write org.tempel.findanyfile "Notify when nothing found" -bool NO

To use a different sound with the Notification Center, enter the following command in Terminal, replacing sound_name with the name of a system sound such as "Basso", "Frog" or "Sosumi" (the default is "Purr"):

defaults write org.tempel.findanyfile "Nothing found sound" "sound_name"

To disable the system sound as well, enter the following command in Terminal:

defaults write org.tempel.findanyfile "Beep when nothing found" -bool NO

Furthermore, only in v2.3.2 and later, you can get a sound played when a search was successful. To specify the system sound name, e.g. to play "Pop", enter in Terminal:

defaults write org.tempel.findanyfile "Sound when something found" "Pop"

Ways to copy the results to the clipboard in various formats.

To copy selected items from the results to the clipboard, there are many options.

Pressing cmd+C (menu: Edit/Copy) copies all shown columns, separated by TAB characters (useful for pasting into a spreadsheet).

All other options require the use of the mouse, to open the Edit menu at the top, choosing the Copy menu item while holding down one or more modifier keys:

  • With the shift key, only the names will be copied.
  • With the alt (option) key, complete paths will be copied.
  • With both the shift and ctrl keys, the names will be copied, but indented with TAB characters (only works in the hierarchical view) – currently only works in version 1, not version 2.
  • With ctrl key, a JSON formatted text will be copied, containing all the item defails in a format convenient for automated processing – only version 2.

Another way to copy the path of every selected item is to right-click (or ctrl-click) on the text at the very bottom of the window where it shows the number of selected items. This will open a menu offering to copy the paths in various representations. If in doubt, choose "POSIX style".

Note: In hierarchical view, using Select All (cmd+A) selects only the found items but not their enclosing folders. To select all listed items, press cmd+A twice within a second.

Keep also in mind that you could drag the selected items to a new folder while holding down both option (alt) and cmd keys. That will create Finder Aliases in the folder. That way, you have a set of alias files that point to your found items.

Still have questions?

Contact Thomas by e-mail.