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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria Desktop
Tiger only hintWhen you type cmd-F in Finder, you are presented with two already filled-in criteria; Kind: Any and Last Opened: Any Date. While it's nice as a first-timer user to see the options available, we would like to change this default to something more reasonable.

A reasonable default would be a search without any criteria. I'll show you how that can be done, as well as how to set it to my favorite: Items opened today. The interesting file we have to change is:
/System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/Resources/default_smart.plist
To find this file, select the path in Safari (or other Cocoa browser) and choose Finder -> Reveal from the Services menu (in the application's menu). Copy the file to a working directory, for example, your home folder. This file can be edited with the Property List Editor if you have Developer Tools installed, but it's also easily edited with a Text editor -- you just have to be careful about syntax.

To remove the default criteria alltogether, replace the criteria array with an empty array. Replace...
<key>FXCriteriaSlices</key>
<array>
    // here are the criteria
</array>
with this...
<key>FXCriteriaSlices</key>
<array/>
To change to a default where the criteria is "Last Opened: Today," instead replace the above section with this code:
<key>FXCriteriaSlices</key>
<array>
    <dict>
        <key>FXSliceKind</key>
        <string>Slsv</string>
        <key>Value</key>
        <string>DAto</string>
    </dict>
</array>
When you have changed your working copy of the file, back up the Finder application and drag the working copy into the Finder Resources folder. The Finder will prompt for an administrator password; enter a password and then logout and login (or restart Finder) to try your tweaks.

If you want to find out which FXCriteriaSlices you want to put in, it's easy. The default_smart.plist file is basically identical to a saved search file, with some attributes like view options removed. Experiment by saving a search that has the criteria you are interested in, and open that saved search in a text editor. You should be able to recover values for FXSliceKind and Value to suit your preference.

[robg adds: This is similar, but not identical to, this hint, which didn't provide as much detail on the editing process. I felt it was worth sharing on its own merits...]
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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria | 10 comments | Create New Account
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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria
Authored by: brucio on Jul 01, '05 12:58:03PM

Thank you! IMO, this is the best Tiger hint yet! I like Searchlight and all, but why did Apple make choosing the default search criteria so user-unfriendly in the first place?



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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria
Authored by: arg on Jul 01, '05 01:12:08PM

Just a correction. The hint reads:

To remove the default criteria alltogether, replace the criteria array with an empty array. Replace...

<key>FXCriteriaSlices</key>
<array>
// here are the criteria
</array>

with this...
<key>FXCriteriaSlices</key>
<array/>

Actually, if you're replacing the criteria with nothing, I believe you still need both array tags (the hint just shows the closed tag). Without the opening array tag, the Finder goes kaplooey. At least it did for me.

So, an empty serach criteria find window would look like this:

<key>FXCriteriaSlices</key>
<array>
<array/>

Otherwise, thanks for this hint. It works great, and I have Cmd-F working much more how I like it now.



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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria
Authored by: maddys_daddy on Jul 01, '05 01:49:20PM

Actually, (and I'm not 100% certain on this, I'm just learning XML syntax) that <array/> is not merely a closing tag, but rather a sort of "open and close" or "null" tag. </array> is the closing tag, while <array/> is not. So if you executed his hint by simply deleting the <array> opening tag, without changing the </array> to <array/>, that might explain why your Finder is going "kablooey." I'm not at my Mac right now to test, though, and I could be wrong.



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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria
Authored by: MJCube on Jul 01, '05 04:10:32PM
Absolutely correct, maddys_daddy. The documentation is here.

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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria
Authored by: rpoland on Jul 02, '05 04:59:47PM

Now that we all know how to set the search criteria, (well sort of) I still have one request.

How can we set the cursor to the blank window after Name/Contains.

I find the action of the default window to be a terrible waste of time. If I were to search for "time" I'm not too interested in spinning my wheels looking for all occurances of "t" or "ti" or "tim".



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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria
Authored by: Zo-1 on Jul 03, '05 03:43:41AM
10.4: Change default Finder search criteria
Authored by: jehrler on Jul 06, '05 12:30:47PM

Laserlight is definitely way cool. Unfortunately, even with the keyword/name search selected it won't ONLY search name because it uses the general spotlight search field rather than the Finder one.



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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria
Authored by: chabig on Jul 01, '05 02:31:53PM

The hint states "A reasonable default would be a search without any criteria."

Actually, that's exactly what Apple provides.



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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria
Authored by: emale on Dec 20, '07 06:35:07AM

Anyone a hint, how to get the old default search "Search by name in this folder" back in 10.5? In all new windows the default is set to "Search in content of whole computer" :-(



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10.4: Change default Finder search criteria
Authored by: waa on Jan 13, '08 01:05:08PM

As a matter of fact, I would LOVE to get the "Search by name in this folder" behaviour back! Losing this since upgrading from 10.3.x has been driving me crazy.



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