Under MacOS High Sierra: The "Recently used" folder only shows files that have changed

Once the smart folder has been created and named, we will find the old and new folder in the sidebar. I would hide the old folder for the sake of clarity.

It has been a few days since I noticed this phenomenon: The display "Recently used files", which I used to use every day, suddenly had a different display than usual. Instead of listing the files that were last changed or that were recently created, I only found the documents there that I had actually recently opened. And that is possibly a difference that makes you miss some files painfully.

I have the error first on a faulty Spotlight-Index pushed and thought, that regulates itself again with time. So far nothing has settled and after I got the question yesterday what was going on with the "Recently used" folder since High Sierra, I did some more research.

The malfunction of the folder

If you haven't fully understood what the wrong reaction of the folder is: For example, files that Dropbox created during syncing are no longer displayed under High Sierra or PDFs that my scan program ScanSnap created are no longer listed under recently used files.

The reason for this is that macOS High Sierra now sorts the meta information of the file according to the "LastUsedDate" variable and then sorts the view of the folder. New files that you did not create yourself in a program, but that were created by a background process such as DropBox, have no entry in this variable and simply no longer appear.

 

The "Recently used" folder unfortunately no longer shows files that programs have created in the background. A new smart folder with these search criteria is the solution to get the old behavior back.

The "Recently used" folder unfortunately no longer shows files that programs have created in the background. A new smart folder with these search criteria is the solution to get the old behavior back.

If you go to the "Last used" folder and then open the search criteria for this folder via the context menu, you can see that there is a code that is entered as a logical expression for the search:

(kMDItemLastUsedDate = "*") && ((kMDItemContentTypeTree = public.content) || (kMDItemContentTypeTree = "com.microsoft. *" cdw) || (kMDItemContentTypeTree = public.archive))

This now works differently than the earlier version of the "Last used" folder, since the "kMDItemLastUsedDate" variable is queried here. This means that only files with an entry in this field are displayed.

The search criteria for the "Last used" folder can only be found on some Macs using the gear in the folder's toolbar (left mouse button!).

The search criteria for the "Last used" folder can only be found on some Macs using the gear in the folder's toolbar (left mouse button!).

Solution: a new smart folder called "Recently Used"

To solve this, let's just create a new smart folder containing our own search criteria. We hide this in the sidebar of the Finderfolder and drag it to where our "Recent" folder used to be. So that we don't get confused, let's remove the old folder from the sidebar.

The old folder can be removed from the sidebar using the context menu.

The old folder can be removed from the sidebar using the context menu.

In detail, you carry out these steps:

  1. Right-click on the "Recently used" folder in the Finder and then select the entry "Show search criteria".
    Update: This entry doesn't seem to appear on some Macs, so you can left-click on the gear in the folder's toolbar and select "Show search criteria".
  2. Now instead of "Logical expression" you select the value "Creation date" and then simply enter 999 for "within ??? days". I took 99 so the list doesn't get that long. You can decide for yourself how many days the list should go into the past.
  3. Then click on the "+" to the right of this line with the search criteria and select another filter. This is set to "Last change date" and also enters the number of days that the list should contain.
  4. There is a "Save" button above these lines with the search criteria. You press this and save the new smart search.
  5. Now the finder asks you what this search should be called. I just chose "Last used" and saved the search. When saving, select that the search should be shown in the sidebar.
  6. The new smart folder now appears at the bottom of the sidebar.
  7. Now press with the right mouse button on the old "Recently used" folder and then select "Remove from sidebar" (see screenshot above).
  8. You now drag the new Smart folder with the mouse up into the sidebar, where the "Last used" folder used to be.
Once the smart folder has been created and named, we will find the old and new folder in the sidebar. I would hide the old folder for the sake of clarity.

Once the smart folder has been created and named, we will find the old and new folder in the sidebar. I would hide the old folder for the sake of clarity.

Finished! You already have a folder again that reliably shows the files that were last changed OR created.

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22 comments

  1. A. Brettinger says:

    Very helpful and clearly described. I was finally able to solve the problem

  2. Lisa says:

    Sorry, my problem was not resolved, but maybe I'm doing something wrong. The filters don't seem to work in the sense of "either .. or ..", when I create the first filter, for example, it shows me folders A, B and C, if I only use the second filter, it only shows me C, D and F. Both filters now only C.
    That is understandable? :) Can someone help me? Despair after this stupid update without my beloved folder ...
    Thank you
    Lisa

    • sir appleot says:

      Hi Lisa! Yes, the solution works for me sometimes and sometimes it doesn't. Something's wrong with High Sierra. I think the system isn't quite ready for release yet. Also know some people who are still running their Mac with El Capitan because this is the last stable release for them. So currently I don't see a 100% working solution to the problem. :(

  3. Jan says:

    Good Morning! I also used the All My Files folder on a daily basis to quickly find files that someone has stored in shared folders. With your above-mentioned solution, I now also get all files in system directories displayed, including business cards, program files, etc. Before, there were only files that could be opened with other programs (PDF, JPG, DOC, etc.). Do you have an idea how to prevent this (some are> 10KB, I've already tried that)?

    Greetings, Jan

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Jan! Sure, that works too. When you're editing the search criteria, click the plus to add a new filter. Then you choose "Type" and "Document". You will only see documents that you can open with programs. LG! Jens

  4. Klaus says:

    Mac OS HighSierra 10 13 1
    Hello great master,

    with the above explanation I have already learned something again. Unfortunately, after the update to high, a whole range of functionality is no longer in order. The last documents are simply not displayed. And not just one, but from today about 15 documents (doc, excel) none ... That sucks.
    How is your experience, how and when this is solved, because that is a very important function for me.

    Thank you

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Klaus! Unfortunately very difficult to say. But at least Apple noticed that something went wrong with High Sierra and announced that the next big update will not be about new features but only to fix bugs. But when they will correct the "last files" is in the stars ... LG! Jens

  5. Dirk says:

    Hello Sir Apfelot,
    thanks for the ingeniously simple step-by-step instructions. In a minute everything was back to what is much more practical.
    Regards
    Dirk

  6. Bea says:

    Hello!

    Great. I added another filter, namely size over 1KB, then these whole system folders with 2385209348029384209384203948 are not included in the result. My question is:
    Is there a possibility here or in a separate intelligent folder to query the folders or storage locations last visited? I edit a lot of files and then save them under…. and I don't want to have to click through the folder tree every time.
    Thank you!

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Bea! Good idea with the additional filter! : D Because of the thing with the storage locations: Actually macOS knows the last storage locations. I often see folders at the bottom of the "Save As" dialog that I recently used. I am just unsure whether they will be noted in relation to the program or whether they are "global". I have not yet tried having an intelligent folder filled with folders. I'll test it out when I get the chance and then give you feedback! (here as a comment) LG! Jens

  7. Stefan says:

    Your help is still up to date in 2019! I came across it today because I was annoyed again about missing files that were displayed to me yesterday. Thanks to your description, I finally solved my problem. Thank you very much and happy blogging from Stefan

  8. Harald says:

    I have the same problem on Mojave. Unfortunately, the instructions only work to a limited extent. In the new view, the last changed file is not displayed, but only the folder in which the last opened file is stored.
    Greetings Harald

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Harald! This "trick" somehow works differently for everyone. For me, the intelligent folder sometimes shows nothing at all. On other days it works quite well. Is very strange! But if it shows you a folder, did you choose folder under "Art" and not "File"?

      • Harald says:

        Hello Sir Apfelot, I followed your advice. "Type" was not marked, but after trying I finally marked the sorting attribute "Date of change" instead of "Last used" and in the new view I now see the folder as well as the files that were last changed there immediately below. Although this is not optimal, it is much better than the pre-installed view. Thanks for the advice! Greetings Harald

  9. Each says:

    hey sir appleot,
    finally the solution - I've been annoyed for years that the "last used" intelligent folder was not usable for me. Thank you very much for the great instructions and also for this blog, which clarified the last important questions for me. Thanks!!!
    Kind regards
    Each

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Elke! Thanks for your comment. The "recently used" folder also seems to be in the bucket. I try it every now and then, but I still need this detour with myself under Catalina.

  10. Carlino says:

    Hello, Your Grace,

    Thank you very much and respect for your article > "Recently used" folder Spotlight set in data protection. (!)

    FYI (and possibly for the audience):
    Your solution also works under:
    macOS Monterey Version: 12.3.1 (as of 25.05.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX)

  11. Carlino says:

    Sorry, one more thing:

    I couldn't find out how to suppress the display of the system files and folders set by the system itself with the settings you suggested (and applied by me). These ads do not promote the readability of "Recently Used".
    Because: If you use "Recently used", you want to have a quick overview.

    Phew Eana!

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