The Finder on macOS is there to locate and display files, folders and programs on the Mac hard drive. But sometimes not all of the content is displayed. If folders seem to have disappeared or files that have just been saved / downloaded do not appear in the Finder, there are a few possible solutions. Because the problem can have different causes - and that's why this or that trick works. Or maybe you just didn't pay attention when saving or searching for data. Here you can find out what you can do to make the content visible again in the Finder. Gray folders also play a role;)
Chapter in this post:
Use the search function in the Finder
If a file is not displayed in the Finder, did you accidentally save it under a complicated path or is the download folder empty despite Safari activities? Then a search can help. In this way, files and folders that have been lost on the hard drive or not displayed due to a simple error can be found again. To do this, simply open a Finder window and use the search text field at the top right.
If the file, folder or Mac app you are looking for is not found right away, you don't have to despair. Make sure that you have spelled the file name or any possible content (e.g. a text file) correctly and then check the search location and the search parameters.
You specify the search location next to "Search:" - select "This Mac" for the entire hard drive. For the parameters you click on the small plus symbol (+) under the search field and then see whether any restrictions are set. There are z. For example, no programs were found if “Music”, “Image”, “Text” or the like is set as the type.
Files disappeared? Restart Finder!
Is the search not delivering what you want or is it taking too long? Is the Mac jerking or are other malfunctions noticeable? Then it's time to restart Finder. To do this, you can either turn the whole Mac off and on again or you can use the "Quit now" option.
You can get to the selection window for the immediate termination of active programs either via the Mac menu in the top left of the menu bar () or via the key combination Command + Alt + Escape (⌘ + ⌥ + Esc). And this is how the small, simple window looks like:
With almost all apps, you will see a blue button with "Quit now" in the lower right corner of the window. In the Finder (usually at the bottom of the list), however, it says "Restart". Since the Finder is an essential program for macOS, it cannot simply be closed - the Mac would then lose its basic functions.
Therefore, it can only be restarted using the path shown - but that is exactly the desired procedure. Then searches again for the missing files. If macOS only had a hiccup, you should now be able to find them again.
Show invisible files on Apple Mac
On the Apple Mac, as on the Windows PC, it is possible to hide files and folders. This is usually done for content that is of great importance to the system and therefore cannot be moved, renamed, edited or deleted. If you are looking for such a file or if you have accidentally made an everyday file / a not so essential folder invisible, you can easily display this content.
I already showed you here in 2017 that this is very easy using the key combination Command + Shift + Period (⌘ + ⇧ +.) (At that time under Sierra): Show hidden files with keyboard shortcut. Simply open the Finder so that the Finder window is active and press the indicated keys at the same time.
If you want to use an app that has other system tricks up its sleeve in addition to making hidden Mac files visible, then you can do it yourself TinkerTool look at. TinkerTool has other useful functions, especially for the finder.
Mac problem: make gray folders usable again
Or maybe you know exactly where your files are and you don't need to search or restart the Finder. The files are not invisible either, but simply in a gray folder that you cannot open.
On macOS, a gray / gray-shaded folder can indicate a date problem. Due to an error, the creation / modification date of the folder becomes January 24, 1984, the release date of the first Macintosh.
This change can have several causes - from an incorrect entry in the file system to a power failure that led to an improper shutdown of the system on the Mac or iMac (however, a UPS helps).
To bring the date into the here and now, open this Port (via Spotlight, the Utilities folder, or the Launchpad) and complete the following steps. Below the list I have summarized a few tips for correct input.
- Enter the following command with the current date (example October 8, 2020) and the folder path:
SetFile -d 10/08/2020 / path / to / gray folder /
- Hit Enter to confirm the command
- Check the Finder to see if the folder can be reopened
The command shown consists of the parts “SetFile” for changing file settings, “-d” for date, “mm / dd / yyyy” for month, day and year, and the folder path on the hard disk. You can find the latter, for example, by right-clicking and "Information". In the window that opens, look under “General” in the “Location” line for the folder path. You can activate a graphic representation of the folder path in the Finder via the “View” menu and then via the “Show path bar” item.
Work with the Mac - the right way!
Here in the blog you will find numerous tips, tricks, instructions and answers to questions from readers. In addition to assistance for the Apple Mac and its macOS operating system, there is also a lot of content on iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS and the corresponding devices. If you always want to stay up to date and get useful information for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and Co., then You are welcome to subscribe to the Sir Apfelot newsletter. This only appears once a week and summarizes the last ten posts. From time to time there are also exclusive competitions;)
- Anton Ochsenkühn (Author)
After graduating from high school, Johannes completed an apprenticeship as a business assistant specializing in foreign languages. But then he decided to research and write, which resulted in his independence. For several years he has been working for Sir Apfelot, among others. His articles include product introductions, news, manuals, video games, consoles, and more. He follows Apple keynotes live via stream.
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