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10.5: Search system folders in Spotlight System 10.5
Spotlight generally excludes OS X system folders (such as /etc and /bin) from its searches. But, if you know the name of the system folder you want to search, you can search in it anyway. For example, to search for a file in the /etc folder, select Go: Go to Folder in the Finder. Type /etc in the Go to field and click Go. With that folder now open in the Finder, type whatever it is you want to look for in the Finder window's Spotlight field. When the Search bar appears, select "etc" as the folder to search (instead of This Mac). If you select one of the found files and check its file path at the bottom of the search window, you'll see that the search results are indeed within one of those previously unsearchable folders.
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10.5: Search system folders in Spotlight | 17 comments | Create New Account
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10.5: Search system folders in Spotlight
Authored by: rammjet on Aug 24, '09 08:13:51AM

Leopard added a search parameter for system folders. It just isn't visible by default. But it can be made visible.

From the Desktop, open a "Find" window by pressing Command-F (or go to File menu -> Find).

Near the top of the window, you should see a search parameter bar with popup menus. The default parameter is "Kind". If you don't see the popups, click on the "plus" (+) button on the right.

Click on the "Kind" popup, and on the bottom, select "Other...". A sheet window will open to show the parameters, and it has a search field. Type: system

There should be only one result. Click the "In Menu" box and then "OK". Now, whenever you want system files as part of your search, you can "include" and "don't include" them by selecting that search parameter.





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10.5: Search system folders in Spotlight
Authored by: horhey23 on Aug 24, '09 09:58:57AM

Great tip, thanks!



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10.5: Search system folders in Spotlight
Authored by: kd35a on Aug 24, '09 01:39:14PM

Thanks for the tip! :D



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The OP's hint does this site a disservice (that's becoming too common here, IMO)
Authored by: dilvish1984 on Aug 25, '09 12:32:51PM

I also came into the comments to point out that there was this easier, sanctioned way to accomplish this hint, only to find I had been beaten to the punch.

This brings up a concern I've had ongoing about this site -- there really needs to be some way to warn users coming onto this site that a hint is counterproductive, and to let them know to look in the comments for a better solution. The star rating system won't allow a rating below 1 (it seems obvious that at least 0 should be possible, if not also negative ratings). Also, there should be a way for a comment like the one to which I'm replying to be promoted to replace the original hint in a case like this.

Any possibility of these sort of changes Rob? (It seems to me that the current system of relying on Rob to add his comments to the bottom of a hint fails to take full advantage of the community effort.)



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10.5: Search system folders in Spotlight
Authored by: kdjk5467 on Aug 24, '09 08:22:28AM

I believe you will need to be root to read those files so you would need to be root to spotlight the contents.



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10.5: Search system folders in Spotlight
Authored by: UberFu on Aug 25, '09 12:37:43PM

Nope.

Wrong.

Thanks for playing.

You do not need to be Root anything to read those files. Admin and Standard Users can bring up a list of system files as well as read them.

Certain files cannot be saved/ written to by an Admin or Standard Account.



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Mini-rant
Authored by: willbank on Aug 24, '09 10:25:22AM
When you are in a Finder folder that you would like to search, and you type into the search bar in that finder window WHY OH WHY does it switch to Macintosh HD?!

If I'd wanted to search Macintosh HD then I would have bleedin' well used Spotlight in the first place.

This is one of the few Windows-style counter-intuitive bits of strong-arming left in the OS and hopefully Snowy will get rid of it.

---
Investigating all forms of household & home-business technology

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Mini-rant
Authored by: sfgecko on Aug 24, '09 10:55:08AM

snow leopard actually has a preference for this. why this was working in tiger (10.4) by default then taken out of leopard (10.5) and made available as an option again in snow leopard (10.6) is beyond me. apple can be retarded sometimes.



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Mini-rant
Authored by: tedw on Aug 24, '09 11:54:07AM
I think it was Steve Jobs (back in the day) who said that he couldn't imagine why anyone would *ever* want more than a megabyte of ram... :)

Yeah, Apple is retarded sometimes. But I haven't yet met anyone who isn't retarded some of the time. The nice thing about Apple is that they try not to make a habit out of it.

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Mini-rant
Authored by: apikoros on Aug 25, '09 06:12:54AM

People who have intellectual impairments/mental retardation and their families and friends would appreciate it if you didn't use the term "retarded" in that way. It demeans those who, through no fault of their own, do experience that challenge.

Please, and thank you.



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Mini-rant
Authored by: tedw on Aug 25, '09 04:12:47PM
People who have intellectual impairments/mental retardation and their families and friends would appreciate it if you didn't use the term "retarded" in that way. It demeans those who, through no fault of their own, do experience that challenge.
If you are talking about people with cognitive/affective disorders or impairments, I would never call those people retarded, because they are not. The word 'retarded' implies someone who is operating well below the level they can (or ought) to be operating at. Those people I have met who have actual impairments (as a rule) do more within their limits than the rest of us do within ours, and ought to be commended for it. Don't legitimize 'retarded' as an insult to the impaired by complaining about it (because, frankly, using the word as an insult to the impaired is something only a *truly* retarded person would do).

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Mini-rant
Authored by: UberFu on Aug 25, '09 12:39:31PM

Nope that was Bill Gates talking of 512KB of Memory.



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Mini-rant
Authored by: macHobbes on Aug 25, '09 08:10:38AM

Thanks for this hint!

More precisely, this is a Finder preference now.



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Mini-rant
Authored by: mm2270 on Aug 24, '09 02:08:20PM

Boy do i hear ya! That "feature" of Leopard is routinely one of the most frustrating aspects that I battle with and rail against, almost daily. I can't fathom what in heck Apple was thinking when they changed that from the way it worked in Tiger. Beyond stupid!



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10.5: Search system folders in Spotlight
Authored by: n1mie on Aug 24, '09 12:08:00PM

What I wonder is whether there is a way to search, or include in a search, the trash? What if you're looking for a file you misplaced that is in the trash waiting to be lost forever?

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--Chip



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10.5: Search system folders in Spotlight
Authored by: tempel on Aug 24, '09 01:01:05PM

(shameless self-promotion)

You could use the program "Find Any File" - it can't search the contents of files, but it finds files by their name, date, etc, pretty fast, and all across your disk, even if root access is necessary (the app provides a "Search as root" mode).



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10.5: Search system folders in Spotlight
Authored by: baltwo on Aug 24, '09 03:08:54PM
Alternatively, set it permanently to search system files as described in my hint: http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20080229204517495

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