Use File & Folder Paths in Spotlight for Mac

Sep 1, 2020 - 1 Comment

How to use file system paths in Spotlight on Mac

Did you know you can enter file system and folder paths into Spotlight on Mac? This handy trick offers a way to quickly access buried files and folders on a Mac, regardless of where they are on in the file system.


Of course if you’re an advanced Mac user you may already be accustomed with the excellent ‘Go To Folder’ Mac function and keyboard shortcut, but this Spotlight Path feature may be new to some users, and it’s also nice to have an alternative method for accessing file system if you happen to have a path ready.

How to Use File System Paths in Spotlight on Mac

This is pretty straight forward, here’s how it works:

  1. From anywhere on the Mac, hit Command + Spacebar to open Spotlight (or whatever your Spotlight keyboard shortcut is set to), or click the Spotlight icon in the upper right corner
  2. Enter the file system path into Spotlight
  3. Enter file system path in Spotlight on Mac for quick access to file system

  4. Optionally, hit return / enter to open the file system path directly in Finder
  5. File system path opened in Finder from Spotlight

For example, you can quickly access /Applications by typing that into Spotlight and hitting the return key. Or you can quickly access the current user Home folder by typing “~/” and hitting return, which will immediately open the users home folder into a new Finder window.

You may find this particularly helpful if you have copied a file path from Finder (or elsewhere) and have that in your clipboard, as you can just paste it directly into Spotlight to access whatever the file or folder is.

Unlike the similar command for Go To Folder which supports tab completion, tab completion does not work when entering file system paths into Spotlight, so if you want that capability you’ll want to stick with Go To Folder instead.

If you’re the type of Mac user who frequently uses file, folder, and directory paths, give this a try, it’s pretty useful! And while it’s not a replacement for Go To Folder, the convenience alone is worth tucking this tip into your bag of tricks.

Similarly, you can also open websites and URLs from Spotlight on the Mac too, which is another handy feature.

Have any other insight into this, or any interesting tips or tricks for Spotlight or navigating file paths or the file system? Share with us in the comments below.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

One Comment

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  1. Ron B says:

    Thxs for that tip

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