The Apple Mac Finder Big Sur icon on a blue background

By default, when you use the Search feature in Finder, it has the eerie habit of searching your entire Mac instead of only searching the current folder. Thankfully, you can make Finder always search the current folder by changing a setting on your Mac.

When Finder uses the default setting, you need to switch to the current folder from the top toolbar every time. This can get quite annoying.

Switch to Folder Search in Finder Manually

You can change this behavior from the Finder preferences.

First, open the Finder app. You can click the Finder icon from the Dock, or you can use the Spotlight Search feature.

Open New Finder Window

Next, from the top-left corner of the screen, select the “Finder” button from the menu bar. Then, choose the “Preferences” option.

Open Preferences for Finder

Navigate to the “Advanced” tab from the top.

Advanced Tab in Finder

Here, click the dropdown below the “When Performing a Search” setting and choose the “Search The Current Folder” option.

Select Search in Current Folder for Mac

And you’re all set. The next time you go to a folder in Finder and start searching, it will default to searching in the current folder.

Switch to Search Entire Mac in Finder

If you want to search all directories instead, just choose the “This Mac” option from the Search toolbar.


Don’t like it when Finder opens the Recents folder every time you launch the app? Here’s how to change the default folder in Finder.

RELATED: How to Set the Default Finder Folder on Your Mac

Khamosh Pathak Khamosh Pathak
Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has seven years of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
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