Search include System Files and Invisible Files

Searching for data that you can’t find in a regular Spotlight search? Add System Files and Invisible files to your search.


How To Create Search

Click on the Desktop so the Finder is active. You’ll see Finder listed by the Apple in the Menu bar.


Command F will create a new search window.


Select Other


Add System Files


Add File Invisiblesearch_kind..

File visibility > Visible or Invisible



Use OS X Recovery Disk Assistant to reset Your files and folder permissions

OS X Recovery Disk Assistant

  • Disk Utility in Applications/Utilities lets you verify and repair Mac OS X disks and permissions issues.
  • The Recovery drive has an additional Repair Permissions application utility hidden away. This allows you to repair permissions on YOUR files and folders.
    • This tool is located inside boot Repair Utilities.

We are going to use this option to repair permissions on your files and folders. After restarting your entire drive will be re-indexed by Spotlight.

  • Outlook users that are having difficulty with search even after re-indexing and creating a new Identity can use this option to fix search for their Identity.
  • Your Outlook identity opens without saving previous data.
  • Spotlight fails to index your files and folders.

Restart and hold down the Command and R keys during start-up to boot into the Recovery Disk Assistant. (This is a new feature for Lion/Mountain Lion/ Mavericks. Not an option for Snow Leopard)

You will boot into the Repair Utilities screen. On top, in the Menu Bar click the Utilities item then select Terminal.




In the Terminal window, type resetpassword and hit Return.





The Password reset utility launches, but you’re not going to reset the password.

  1. Select your startup volume at the top
  2. From the dropdown below it, select the user account with the problem.
  3. At the bottom of the window, you’ll see an area labeled ‘Reset Home Directory Permissions and ACLs’. Click the Reset button there.The reset process only takes a couple of minutes. It’s not obvious when it’s finished.
  4. Quit Reset Password
  5. Quit Terminal
  6. Quit OS X Utilities and restart your Mac. **

**While booted from the Repair drive, you can run Disk Utility to check or repair your hard drive. I suggest running Repair Drive while booted from the Recovery drive.

After you restart your entire hard drive will re-index. Depending on the size of your drive, this can take hours. Until this process is finished, Spotlight won’t know the contents of your disks and neither will Outlook. All lists like contacts, events, notes etc. are generated by the Spotlight searches.

Note: You can tell if Spotlight is still in progress by simply looking at the Spotlight menu: There’s a blinking dot in the middle of the magnifying glass while indexing is occurring. You can also open Activity Monitor in Applications/Utilities and type in md in the search filter. You should see mdworker32 and mdworker. The file, mdworker32 is for Outlook and mdworker is for system.


Use Search in Apple Mail

Mail uses tokens. From, To, Date, Contains etc are called tokens. More Info under Smart Search

I find that trying to enter multiple tokens in the “Find” box is difficult to see and manage since the search box fails to expand. For complex searches, follow these steps. This will bring up a search that is easier to use. For Entourage & Outlook users this should look more familiar.

1) Enter the person’s name. Select From, To or Entire Message. (you can enter any criteria to get started)  Alternatively, select New Smart Mailbox under Mailbox in the Menu bar.

2) Click on Save. I find this window to be easier to customize.

Continue clicking on the + to add criteria.

This last part is where Mail is not as elegant as Entourage or Outlook. You don’t see results without saving. This results in a smart folder added to the folder list.

If you decide to keep the smart folder,  you might want to create a template so the name is generic rather than a person’s name.

I used from criteria so it would not come up with any results for the template and the name would be search for my sidebar smart folder name.

Entering the from name field does not bring up results like the top search box so you would need the correct spelling for name.


To create a new search select to Edit Search by Control-Click (Right-click) on the Smart folder or select Mailbox in the Menu bar > Edit Smart Mailbox…