Mac101 – Search To Open & Save Files

When it comes to opening and saving files in Mac OS X, we pretty much rely on muscle memory. That usually involves a bunch of clicking and navigating around in the Finder. However, there are easier ways to interact with files that are built right into the operating system.

Opening Files

In this example, I am using Apple’s Pages app. Of course, you can use the “Open Recent” command in the “File” menu to find recently used files. However, if you need to open a not so recently used document then you use the “Open” command. This takes you to a typical Finder open window:


Instead of navigating throughout the Finder for the file just type part of the file name in the “Search” box, upper-right corner of the window. You can even type words from the content of the document if you don’t remember the file name. You can select where you want to search in the drop down at the top of the window or in the left sidebar. As you type in the “Search” box, the Finder locates files containing the search criteria. All you have to do is select the file you want and click “Open.”

This is so much easier than clicking around in the Finder. The problem is, most of us are to use to clicking around (muscle memory) that we just don’t think to use this system. A little forced training on your part and you can save yourself some time.

Saving Files

The same procedure applies to saving files. If you are working on a file and wish to save it, you do not need to navigate all over the place to find the location in the Finder.


Type in the folder location you are looking for in the “Search” box and similars are displayed in real time. Select from the correct displayed folder and then click the “Save” button top right corner of the window. You may have to do a little navigating within the folders, but this method still saves you time.

There is one more thing here. If your workflow involves opening, finding and saving lots of files, then you might want to consider getting an app called EasyFind from DEVONtechnologies. This app is free and it can perform very granular searches on your Mac. I don’t use it a lot, but if I am having trouble finding something, EasyFind is my go to app. You can read my article on EasyFind to get more information.


Sometimes we are set in our ways which involves doing things the hard way. With a little determination and attention to detail we can discover time saving ways to doing things in the Mac OS.