How I Use All My Files in Mac OSX Lion

Sidebar: All My Files

I didn’t get it.

When I saw the All My Files item at the top of my Mac OSX Lion’s Finder sidebar, I thought it would be totally useless. How could I possibly deal with ALL my files at once?? But then I spotted the Arrange button in the toolbar. It started to make sense. I could replicate my preferred office filing system for paper documents.  For over 20 years I’ve been doing what I call a Super Simple 2-Hole Punch System. I file my paper bills, receipts, statements and check stubs in a continuous stack on a 2-hole clipboard. In essence, all my paper documents are filed chronologically with the most current paperwork on top. The deeper you go in the paper stack, the older the documents.

Arrange button

Now I can use my trusted office filing system on my Mac’s digital documents. Here’s how I’ve set up:

  1. In the Finder, click on All My Files in the sidebar
  2. View > Hide Sidebar
  3. View > as Columns
  4. Click the Arrange button. Select Date Last Opened (or other sequence to your personal liking)


All My Files screenshot

You’ll see your files — all your files — nicely arranged and grouped in chronological order with the newest files at the top of the window list. In the above example, I’m limiting my view to only include files related to the word “marathon” (making the window smaller puts the search field under the toolbar). Clicking on a file shows a preview since this is in Column view.

Now I get it.

Added: How to fix problem of not showing .doc and .xls documents in All My Files


  1. Dominique Muller says

    your post is great. Really helped my to like “All my files”.
    One question though: would you have any idea how to make “All my files” referencing also .doc documents and not only .docx documents?

    • Mike Beato says

      You’re right, for some reason the Finder doesn’t show .doc items. I think it’s a bug, not a “feature.” Nevertheless, I’ve got a workaround:

      Go to your home folder and press Cmd-F
      Search: Created date is within last 25 years. That should pickup all documents, both .docx and .doc.
      Now “save” this search. I call mine All My Files* — and then use THAT instead of the built-in All My Files.

      • Dominique says

        Thanks, that’s a nice trick. I really found the regular All my files functioning kind of odd sometime.

  2. says

    Thanks for this tip. My InDesign files still won’t show up in the new All My Files as you have described here. As well, when I want to send an attachment in Mail, I used to use the “Recent Items” in Snow Leopard all the time. Now the All My Files feature is useless. Hope Apple fixes this soon.

  3. Mariano says

    Hi, sorry but I have a problem with All My Files and I can’t solve the problem, because when I try to open the folder its show me an alert with the text “The operation can’t be completed because the item can’t be found.”, could yours help me?

  4. Michelle says

    How come “All My Files” doesn’t show all my files?? We just upgraded to Lion and the “All My Files” clearly didn’t have everything… Also, do you know where I would check to see how much space is left on my hard drive? I used to “get info” under hard drive but I have no clue where that is now?! Thanks!

  5. Rachel says

    there is an application that you can write, say and then a word, what is the app called, thank you!