How to quickly find your recently used items in the Finder

This feature has been around for a long time, but every now and then I find myself delivering an Amsys Training course where someone who has been using a Mac for years and has been completely unaware of its existence!
So what exactly am I referring to? Well, have you ever created a document but can’t remember what it’s called or where you saved it?
If you could just remember what you called it, you could use Spotlight to search for it, but not remembering what it was called in the first place, causes a flaw in that plan!
Coming to the rescue, therefore, is your ‘Recent Items’.
First of all, ensure that in ‘General’ preferences you have configured your Finder to offer you a list of the most recent Documents, Apps and Servers you have accessed or saved. Change ‘None’ to either ‘5’, ’10’, ’15’, ’20’, ’30’ or ’50’ recent items to suit your needs:

quickly find recent items in osx

Now, whenever you open or save a document, open an Application or connect to a network share point, Recent Items will display these items for you, as shown below:

find recent items easily

Now, most people are aware of this feature at this point. However, notice that this tells you WHAT you recently used, but not WHERE they are!
So, this time, whilst selecting ‘Recent Items’, hold down the command key (‘cmd’):

see where recent items are stored in osx

Notice the difference? Now, not only do you have the names of the recently used items, but also the ability to see WHERE that Application or Document is located on your hard drive! Selecting the Application or Document entry whilst still holding down the Command key will immediately open a new Finder window at the location of the item you are looking for:

location of recent files in os x

Now that unknown text file that I couldn’t remember what I had called or where I had saved it to is listed and I can easily view WHERE it is located in the Finder!


While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.
This feature has been tested using OS X v10.8.3 which was the latest Mac OS release at the time of writing and also using the latest Internal and external Apple keyboards.