How do I find all Excel files on my Mac?

Excel files are very common in the business world for analyzing data and creating reports. However, over time you may have created or saved many Excel files across different folders on your Mac. Trying to locate a specific Excel file or even just view all the Excel files on your system can become difficult.

Thankfully, MacOS provides some simple ways to find and view all your Excel files in one place. In this article, we’ll walk through the various methods you can use to easily find Excel files on a Mac.

Search for Excel Files Using Finder

The quickest and easiest way to find Excel files on your Mac is by using Finder’s search capabilities. Finder allows you to search for files by name, type, date modified, and other attributes.

To find Excel files in Finder:

  1. Open a new Finder window. You can do this by clicking on the Finder icon in your dock or by selecting Finder from the Applications list.
  2. In the Finder search bar in the top right, type “.xlsx” (without quotes). This will search for all Excel files with the .xlsx file extension.
  3. Hit return/enter. Finder will now show all Excel files on your Mac in the search results.

You can use other search attributes like file name, file size, date modified etc. to further filter the Excel files shown.

For example, typing “sales.xlsx” will only show Excel files named sales. Typing “modified:this week” will show Excel files modified in the past week.

Find Excel Files from Spotlight Search

Spotlight Search provides a way to quickly search for files from anywhere on your Mac. It has the same file search capabilities as Finder.

To find Excel files using Spotlight Search:

  1. Click on the magnifying glass icon in the top right corner of your screen. This will open up Spotlight Search.
  2. Type “.xlsx” and press return/enter. Spotlight will show all Excel files on your system.
  3. You can use the same filters like file name, size, date modified to further refine your search.

The benefit of using Spotlight Search is you can instantly search for Excel files without having to open up Finder first.

View Recent Excel Files

If you need to quickly access Excel files you viewed or edited recently, you can find them through the Recent Items list.

To view recent Excel files:

  1. Go to the Finder menu and select “Recent” or press Command+Shift+F in any Finder window.
  2. This will open the Recent Folders and Recent Documents list. It shows your recently accessed files.
  3. Click on “Recent Documents” to view the list sorted by Excel files. You will see the most recently opened Excel files at the top.

This provides quick access to Excel files you’ve accessed in the past month or so. The list is sorted by the date you last opened the files.

Searching from Within Excel

If you already have Microsoft Excel open, you can also search for Excel files from within the application.

To search from within Excel:

  1. Open Excel.
  2. Click on File > Open in the menu bar.
  3. On the right side, make sure “Recent” is selected in the sidebar. This will show your recently accessed Excel workbooks.
  4. To view Excel files elsewhere on your system, select “Browse” in the sidebar.
  5. You can search for files by name or use filters like file type, date modified etc.

This allows you to open or switch between Excel files completely within the application. The search capabilities are similar to Finder.

Use Smart Folders to Always View Excel Files

Finder allows you to create Smart Folders that automatically show files matching certain criteria. This provides a great way to always have quick access to your Excel files.

To create a Smart Folder for Excel files:

  1. Open Finder and click File > New Smart Folder.
  2. Name the Smart Folder something like “Excel Files”
  3. Under “Add filter” select “Kind” is “Excel Workbook”
  4. Click Create

This will create a new Smart Folder that dynamically shows all Excel files on your system. Any new Excel files created or saved will automatically show up here.

You can add additional filters like date modified, file size etc. if you want to narrow down the list of Excel files shown.

Use Shortcuts to Open Folder Locations

If you already know the general location of your Excel files, you can quickly jump to that folder in Finder using shortcuts.

For example, press Shift+Command+H to open your Home folder. Press Shift+Command+D to go the Desktop folder.

Some other useful shortcuts include:

  • Documents Folder – Shift+Command+O
  • Downloads Folder – Shift+Command+L
  • Applications Folder – Shift+Command+A
  • Utilities Folder – Shift+Command+U
  • Cloud Storage Folder – Shift+Command+C

If you have a rough idea where your Excel file might be, using one of the above shortcuts can help get you directly to that location fast.

Find Excel Files from External Drives

If you have Excel files saved on external drives or cloud storage like USB drives, SD cards, or cloud services, you can view files on them within Finder.

To view external files in Finder:

  1. Plug in the external drive like USB or SD card.
  2. Open a new Finder window.
  3. On the left sidebar, under Locations, click on the external drive.
  4. Now search for “.xlsx” files or use filters to find Excel files.

For cloud storage like Dropbox, Google Drive etc. you can find them under Locations > Cloud Storage. Search for Excel files within your cloud folder.

This provides an easy way to find Excel files saved across external devices and cloud services.

Find All Excel Files Anywhere on Mac

To find absolutely every Excel file on your Mac regardless of location, you can run a system-wide file search.

Here are the steps to find all Excel files anywhere on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder and click File > Find or press Command+F.
  2. Type “.xlsx” under Name Matches.
  3. In the search location dropdown, select “This Mac”
  4. Click Find. This will search your entire Mac for the file type.

Depending on how many files you have, this search may take a while. But it will show literally every Excel file on your system across all storage devices and folders.

Use Third Party File Management Apps

There are various third party file manager apps that provide enhanced search and organization capabilities beyond what Finder offers.

Some popular file manager apps include:

  • Commander One – Dual pane file manager with powerful search tools.
  • ForkLift – Finder replacement with tabs and advanced filtering.
  • Path Finder – File manager with many customization options.

These apps provide advanced filtering, tagging, metadata search options to really fine tune finding specific Excel files on your Mac.

The downside is there is often a learning curve with these apps compared to simple Finder search. But they can be worth it for power users dealing with tons of files across the system.


Excel files are easy to misplace on your Mac given how many get created over time. Thankfully MacOS offers many straightforward ways to find Excel files scattered across your system.

Some key takeaways include:

  • Use Finder or Spotlight search for quick searches by file type, name, or other criteria.
  • View recent Excel files through the Recent Items list.
  • Create Smart Folders to dynamically view Excel files.
  • Leverage Finder shortcuts to jump to folder locations.
  • Run a system-wide search to find Excel files anywhere on your Mac.

With all these options, you should have no trouble tracking down even the most elusive Excel file hiding somewhere on your Mac!