Setting up folders helps keep your Mac organized. But when you have too much, it’s like having piles of stuff everywhere – messy and hard to find what you need. If you’re drowning in folders on your Mac, consider creating Smart Folders instead! Creating Smart Folders is easy and they simplify finding similar files. Here we will guide by building your own smart folders and customizing them to suit your needs.

What is a Mac Smart Folder?

Mac’s Smart Folder acts as dynamic storage, constantly updating based on pre-set criteria. This feature is especially handy for users who work with large volumes of files and struggle to keep track of their organization. By setting up Smart Folders, users can automate the categorization process, ensuring that relevant files are always easily accessible without manual intervention.

The flexibility of smart folders lies in their customizable criteria. Users can tailor these criteria to suit their specific needs, whether it’s filtering files based on creation date, file type, keyword, or a combination of these. This flexibility enables users to create smart folders tailored to their workflow, increasing efficiency and productivity.

Additionally, the non-destructive nature of Smart Folders sets them apart from traditional folders. Unlike conventional folders that physically move files when organized, Smart Folders act as virtual containers, providing a dynamic view of files without changing their original location. This functionality not only streamlines file management, but also preserves the integrity of the file system.

At its core, Smart Folders are an advanced yet user-friendly solution for organizing and accessing files on a Mac. By harnessing the power of automation and customization, users can streamline their workflow, reduce clutter, and improve their overall computing experience.

Advantages of Smart Folder

Smart folders in macOS offer several benefits that streamline file organization, increase productivity, and simplify file management tasks:

  • Automatic organization: Smart folders automatically collect files based on predefined criteria, such as file type, creation date, or specific keywords. This eliminates the need for manual sorting and allows users to quickly access files without searching through multiple folders.
  • Efficient file extraction: With Smart Folders, users can easily find files by applying search criteria, saving time and effort. Whether you’re looking for documents, images, or media files, Smart Folders provide a convenient way to retrieve files without navigating complex folder structures.
  • Dynamic update: Smart folders dynamically update their contents when new files that meet defined criteria are added or existing files are changed. This ensures that the folder always contains the most current files without manual intervention.

There are even more benefits, check them out:

  • Customizable criteria: Users can customize the Smart Folder criteria to suit their specific needs and preferences. Whether you organize files by file type, date, or other attributes, Smart Folders offer flexibility in defining search criteria.
  • Improved performance: By automating file organization tasks, Smart Folders help improve productivity by reducing time spent manually managing files. Users can focus on more important tasks, knowing their files are automatically organized and easily accessible.
  • Finder integration: Smart Folders integrate seamlessly with the Finder app, providing a familiar interface for accessing and managing files. Users can easily create, edit, and delete Smart Folders directly in the Finder, improving the overall user experience.
  • Sync across devices: With iCloud integration, Smart Folders created on macOS can be synced across all Apple devices, including Mac, iPhone, and iPad. This ensures consistent file organization and access across multiple devices, promoting seamless workflow continuity.
  • Improved file accessibility: Smart folders make it easier to access files by grouping them based on specific criteria. Whether you’re organizing work-related documents, personal photos, or media files, Smart Folders provide a centralized location for quick and efficient file access.

Overall, Smart Folders in macOS offer a range of benefits that simplify file organization, improve productivity, and enhance the user experience. Using the dynamic capabilities of Smart Folders, users can effectively manage their files and streamline their workflow in macOS.

Create a Smart Folder on Mac

To begin the process of creating a Smart Folder on your Mac, start by accessing the Finder, the central hub for navigating files and folders on your device. The starting location in the Finder is irrelevant unless you have a specific folder in mind to search.

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Then proceed with the following steps:

  • Stage 1: Go to the menu bar and select “File”. Select “New Smart Folder” from the drop-down menu.
  • Step 2: After selecting “New Smart Folder”, a blank folder interface will appear in the Finder. At this point, consider the scope of your search. If you intend to search your entire computer for files, make sure “This Mac” is selected next to the “Search” bar in the upper-left corner of the window. This expands the search beyond the boundaries of the current folder, covering all files in your Mac’s storage.
  • Step 3: Use the search box located in the upper right corner of the Smart Folder window. Here you can enter keywords, categories, file types or dates to establish the initial rule for filtering the contents of the smart folder. As you type, a drop-down list will show suggestions that match what you’ve typed. Select the relevant offer from the list to effectively refine your search criteria.
  • Step 4: When viewing your search results, you’ll notice the option to further refine your search parameters. To do this, find the plus sign located on the right side next to the Save button.

    Clicking the plus sign allows you to add additional rules, refining your search criteria to get more accurate results tailored to your preferences.

  • Step 5: Continue using the first drop down box located on the left side. Here you can select the parameter you want to focus on within your search criteria. Options include name, content, creation date, file type, and more.
  • Step 6: Move to the next drop-down box and accompanying field to specify the appropriate attribute. These options are set dynamically based on your selection in the first dropdown box.
  • Step 7: As you add criteria, monitor the results in real-time to make sure they meet your expectations. This allows you to confirm that you are getting the desired results. Once you are satisfied with your criteria, continue to the top right corner and select “Save” to save your Smart Folder configuration.
  • Step 8: Enter a name for your smart folder in the pop-up window. By default, Smart Folders are stored in Saved Searches on your Mac. However, you have the option to choose another location. Optionally, for convenient access, consider adding the folder to the Finder sidebar by checking the box labeled “Add to Sidebar.”
  • Step 9: After you complete the setup, click “Save” to finalize your smart folder.

To access your Smart Folder, navigate to its designated location.

Optional: Find saved searches on Mac

If you’ve chosen to store your Smart Folder in the default Saved Searches location on your Mac, follow these steps:

  • Stage 1: Open Finder and select “Go” > “Go to folder” from the menu bar.
  • Step 2: In the pop-up window, enter the following in the search box at the top: ~/Library/Saved Searches.
  • Step 3: Press the “Return” key.

The Smart Searches folder will then open, revealing your newly created Smart Folder inside.

Edit a smart folder

To refine or modify a Smart Folder, you can easily adjust its search criteria. This is how:

  • Stage 1: Start by opening the smart folder you want to edit. This action allows you to access its settings and make the necessary adjustments.
  • Step 2: Next, go to the Finder toolbar located at the top of the window. From here, click the Action drop-down menu, providing a range of options to manage your Smart Folder.
  • Step 3: Select “Show search criteria” from the drop-down menu. This action reveals the specific search parameters currently applied to your smart folder.

By following these steps, you gain access to the inner workings of your Smart Folder, allowing you to add, remove, or modify rules as needed to tailor its functionality to your preferences. This user-friendly approach gives you the ability to fine-tune the behavior of your Smart Folder, ensuring that it stays in line with changing organizational needs.


Smart Folders in macOS revolutionize file organization, offering dynamic and efficient ways to manage files on Mac computers. By automatically collecting files based on predefined criteria, Smart Folders streamline file retrieval. It also improves performance and simplifies file management tasks.

With customizable criteria, seamless integration with Finder, and syncing across devices via iCloud, Smart Folders provide a centralized and dynamic approach to file organization. As a result, users can enjoy improved accessibility, increased productivity, and a more streamlined workflow, making Smart Folders an invaluable tool for macOS users.

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How to Create a Smart Folder On a Mac