4 Solutions to Fix 'Can't Find a File on Mac' on macOS

Can't find a file on Mac? Don't worry, and it is simple to find your missing files on Mac. You can recover the missing file with software or search the file with Mac Finder or Spotlight. You can use the Mac shortcut to show hidden files if the files are hidden.

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Why Can't I Find a File on Mac

While using a Mac device for a long time, there are plenty of files and documents on your Mac, and it is possible that you can't find a file on Mac. The file you can't find may be a screenshot, a Word, an Excel or a video, and you may encounter this issue because of many reasons:

  • Too many files on your Mac, and it is hard to find a specific file.
  • The file you want is hidden on Mac.
  • You accidentally deleted a file on Mac.
  • Some errors happen while moving a file on Mac.

We will introduce four ways to help you find a file on Mac, and you'll need to choose different methods for different situations. If you can't find a file on Mac., read the following techniques and pick a suitable plan.

Method 1. Fix 'Can't Find a File on Mac' with Software

If you figure out that the reason you can't find a file on Mac is an accidental deletion, you can try to find the deleted files from Mac Trash (check this link if you don't know where is Trash on Mac). If the files are not there, you may need to perform Mac Trash Recovery with Mac data recovery software.

The are many reasons that you should choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac and recover data with this functional file recovery program:

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

  • Recover deleted files Mac due to accidental deletion, system crash, formatting, hard drive damage, or malware attack.
  • Retrieve various hidden files, including photos, videos, documents, emails, and audio.
  • Support plenty of file formats, including DOC, PNG, RAW, MOV, MP3, MP4, etc.

Method 2. Fix 'Can't Find a File on Mac' with Finder

When your Mac has finished booting up, the first thing you see is the Mac Finder. Mac Finder displays the contents of your Mac, iCloud, and other storage devices using windows and icons. The most important thing is that it's named the Finder because it makes finding and organizing your files more accessible. Let us check how to find the specific file when you can't find a file on Mac:

Step 1. Find the Finder icon from your Dock, and open it.

click the Finder icon

Step 2. Now you can find a specific file on Mac using the search box. You can type in the file name to search for the file you can't find. If you know the file is in which folder, you can select the folder and search for the file.

search file name in Finder

Step 3. If you cannot find your file by a file name, you can search the file with "Month" or "Date".

find a file in Finder by date

Note: If your Finder is frozen or stuck, you can stop Finder action on Mac.

Method 3. Fix 'Can't Find a File on Mac' with Spotlight

On your Mac, Spotlight may assist you in finding applications, files, emails, and other stuff fast. You may get news, match results, weather information, stock prices, and additional information using Siri Suggestions. Even computations and conversions may be done for you by Spotlight. Anyway, Mac Spotlight is a helpful tool for Mac users.

Step 1. Wake Spotlight with the Mac Spotlight shortcut (Command + Space), or find the magnifying glass icon from the menu bar on your Mac.

oepn Mac Spotlight

Step 2. After opening the Spotlight on Mac, you can search for a file like you did in Finder. You should type in the file name or a particular date.

search a file in the Spotlight

Method 4. Fix 'Can't Find a File on Mac' by Showing Hidden Files

We have mentioned in the first part that you can't find a file on Mac because the file is hidden. You can show hidden files on Mac with a shortcut or Terminal, and we will teach you the simple way – using a keyboard shortcut.

Step 1. In the sidebar, choose "Devices" and click the name of your Mac to open a new Finder window.

Step 2. Select "System" or a specific folder on your Mac.

Step 3. Press Command + Shift + Dot to show hidden files on Mac, and you can also use this shortcut to hide the files.

show mac hidden files with finder


Can't find a file on Mac? You don't need to worry at all! You have learned four simple ways to find or recover the file on Mac. In most cases, you cannot find a file suddenly just because the file is deleted. You'd better download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac to recover this lost file immediately.

Can't Find a File on Mac FAQs

This is the last part, and we will answer four frequently asked questions in this section. We hope you can learn more by reading this part.

How to find hidden files on Mac?

There are three ways to find and show hidden files on Mac:

  1. 1. Show hidden files with Command + Shift + Dot. This shortcut will help you hide and unhide files on Mac.
  2. 2. Show hidden files on Mac with Terminal, and you will use this command line: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -bool true.
  3. 3. Recover hidden files with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac.

Can I recover the files I can't find on Mac?

Yes, you can try to recover the files you can't find on Mac with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac. You will need only three simple steps to get back the files you can't find:

  1. 1. Scan the hard drive where your missing file is located.
  2. 2. Find the missing file with the Filter option.
  3. 3. Click the "Recover" button to retrieve the missing file on Mac.

Why do my files disappear on my Mac, and I can't find them?

There are many reasons can make you can't find a file on Mac:

  1. 1. Your Mac has too many files, making it challenging to locate a particular file.
  2. 2. On a Mac, the desired file is hidden.
  3. 3. A Mac user unintentionally erased a file.
  4. 4. On a Mac, several mistakes can occur while transferring a file.

How to find the location of a file on my Mac?

There are two simple ways to locate a file, using the Finder and the Spotlight on Mac, and these two features can help you find a file's location. You need to launch the Finder or the Spotlight and type the file name in the search box.

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is a senior editor and data recovery specialist of EaseUS. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization.

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Written by Dany

Dany is an editor of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. She focuses on writing articles about data recovery on Mac devices and PCs. She is devoted to improving her writing skills and enriching her professional knowledge. Dany also enjoys reading detective novels in her spare time.

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