macos finder iconIn a previous how-to, we explained how to add a special stack to your Mac's Dock that enables quick access to recently opened or favorite items.

This unique stack can be configured to show your most recently opened apps, documents, or servers, but what you can't do is make it show all your recent items, regardless of kind.

One solution is to add a recently opened items folder to your Dock instead. The following steps guide you through the process of creating one using Finder's smart folder feature.

  1. Open a Finder window and select File -> New Smart Folder in the menu bar. Alternatively, right-click (or Ctrl-click) the Finder icon in your Dock and select New Smart Folder.
    create a recent items folder 1

  2. In the Finder window that opens, make sure the search header is selected as This Mac, then click the plus icon in the upper right of the viewing area.
    how to create a recent items folder 01

  3. Select Last opened date in the first search criteria dropdown.
  4. Select within last in the second dropdown.
  5. In the third and final dropdown, select how far back you'd like the folder to show recently opened items for. Your options are days, weeks, months, and years.
  6. In the input field to the left of your timescale selection, specify the number of days/weeks/months/years of recently opened files to show.
    how to create a recent items folder 02

  7. To restrict your recent items folder to a certain kind of file – images, for example – click the plus button to add another row, then select a kind from the second dropdown. (Depending on the kind you select, you may be offered an additional dropdown to further limit the criteria.)
    create a recent items folder 04

  8. Now, hold down the Option key. Note how the plus icon at the end of the row changes to an ellipsis. Click this, and you'll be able to add search parameters that exclude certain items like applications and folders from your recents list.
    create a recent items folder 03

  9. In the second row dropdown, select None of the following are true.
  10. In the third row, first dropdown, select Kind.
  11. In the third row, second dropdown, select the type of item you wish to exclude.
    how to create a recent items folder 05

  12. If you want to add more exclusion criteria, hold the Option key and click the ellipsis icon in the first row. When you're done, click Save in the upper right of the viewing area.
    how to create a recent items folder 06

  13. In the save dialog that appears, give your smart folder a name, and select your Desktop as the location for your folder. You can also opt to include the folder in Finder's sidebar by checking the box next to Add to Sidebar.
    create a recent items folder 4

  14. Click Save.
  15. Switch to your Desktop and drag and drop your new smart folder to the right of the the Dock, which will automatically move any existing icons behind the divider to make space for it. (If you like, you can delete the same folder on your Desktop once it's safely docked.)
    create a recent items folder 5

  16. Finally, right-click (or Ctrl-click) the docked smart folder and select Folder in the contextual menu.
    create a recent items folder 6

The last step gives your recently opened items folder a distinctive icon in the Dock.

create a recent items folder 7
Note that the same contextual menu also provides view and sort options to further customize the folder's behavior.

Top Rated Comments

ignatius345 Avatar
34 months ago
Great tip! I'm loving this series.


[LIST=1]
* In the Finder window that opens, click the plus icon in the upper right of the viewing area.


In this screenshot, wouldn't one want to search "This Mac" instead of just the Desktop? Otherwise it's going to be a pretty narrow set of results....


[LIST=1]
* In the save dialog that appears, give your smart folder a name, and select your Desktop as the location for your folder. You can also opt to include the folder in Finder's sidebar by checking the box next to Add to Sidebar.

You don't have to leave it on your Desktop if you don't want to. I chose to save the Smart Folder to my Documents folder where it's out of the way.

Oh, and if anybody's interested, you can edit the Saved Search by opening it in Finder and selecting "Show Search Criteria" from the little gear menu.

It's also worthwhile while doing the search criteria to add additional filters after you specify the date one. Lots of useful options there like restricting your Kind to Documents to filter out apps. You can stack up these search criteria as you see fit and see the results in real-time as you tweak. Worth futzing with, and you can always create separate smart searches for specific things, like "PDFs from the last 30 days with the name XXXXX" or whatever.



Attachment Image
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ignatius345 Avatar
34 months ago
Or, as he said “(If you like, you can delete the same folder on your Desktop once it's safely docked.)”
You're right, I missed that part. It is handy to keep that .savedsearch file around if you want to edit it, though, and I think you need to keep it somewhere if you want that sidebar shortcut to exist. Interestingly the Dock item is totally independent once you add it, and editing the .savedsearch file has no effect on the dock item.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JosephAW Avatar
34 months ago
Did Apple drop the Finder setting for recent documents in Mojave? Tinker tool used to be able to toggle this without a smart folder.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
timmyh Avatar
34 months ago
In this screenshot, wouldn't one want to search "This Mac" instead of just the Desktop? Otherwise it's going to be a pretty narrow set of results....
Thanks, ignatius, for pointing this out. I'll replace the image and add another step.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
a15 chip

iPhone 13 and Redesigned MacBook Pro Chip Production Hit With Gas Contamination

Friday July 30, 2021 5:44 am PDT by
The most important TSMC factory that manufactures Apple's chips destined for next-generation iPhone and Mac models has been hit by a gas contamination, according to Nikkei Asia. The factory, known as "Fab 18," is TSMC's most advanced chipmaking facility. TSMC is Apple's sole chip supplier, making all of the processors used in every Apple device with a custom silicon chip. Industry...
Apple watch series 5 new case material made of titanium 091019

Titanium Apple Watch Series 6 Models Currently Widely Unavailable

Sunday August 1, 2021 6:21 am PDT by
Models of the Apple Watch Series 6 with titanium cases part of the "Apple Watch Edition" collection is currently widely unavailable for pick-up in several of Apple's retail stores in the United States and is unavailable entirely for delivery in major markets. Noted by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, titanium models of the Apple Watch Series 6,...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 to Bring Over a Major Feature From the Apple Watch

Wednesday July 28, 2021 2:21 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will feature an always-on display akin to the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, according to recent reports. In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, said that the iPhone 13 may feature an Apple Watch-inspired always-on mode. The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch...
apple rtp land

Apple Preparing to Occupy 200,000 Square Feet of Temporary Space Ahead of New $1 Billion North Carolina Campus

Thursday July 29, 2021 9:14 am PDT by
Back in April, Apple announced a $430 billion investment over the next five years to create more than 20,000 new jobs as the company continues to expand. One significant piece of that plan is a new engineering and research center in North Carolina where Apple will be investing over $1 billion and hiring at least 3,000 employees. Assemblage of seven properties in Research Triangle Park owned by ...
telegram

Bumper Telegram Update Enables Video Calls With Up to 1,000 Viewers

Saturday July 31, 2021 12:13 am PDT by
Telegram Messenger has received a major update to its video capabilities, including support for video calls with up to 1,000 viewers. Group video calls in Telegram allow up to 30 users to stream video from both their camera and their screen, and now a maximum of 1,000 people can tune into the broadcast. Telegram says it intends to continue increasing this limit "until all humans on Earth...
app store blue banner

Elon Musk: Apple's App Store Fees Are a 'De Facto Global Tax on the Internet'

Friday July 30, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter today to criticize Apple's App Store fees in a tweet that sides with Epic in the ongoing Epic v. Apple dispute. "Epic is right," wrote Musk, before going on to call Apple's App Store fees a "de facto global tax on the Internet." Musk earlier this week made veiled comments about App Store fees, but today's statement is a much more direct criticism....
FaceID iMac REREREREMIX

Top Stories: Face ID on Future Macs, Elon Musk Criticizes Apple, and More

Saturday July 31, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
This week saw an interesting range of Apple news and rumors, including a blockbuster earnings report, rumors about next year's "iPhone 14" and Face ID coming to Macs, and more. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Other popular topics included Apple's crackdown on leaks, changes in the latest round of betas for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, and several stories...
duracell battery bitter coating

Apple Says Don't Buy AirTag Replacement Batteries With Bitter Coating

Wednesday July 28, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Since AirTags were just released earlier this year and are expected to have a year-long battery life, it may be some time yet before AirTag users need a replacement battery, but when the time comes for a refresh, Apple is warning customers not to buy batteries with a bitter coating. AirTags use coin-shaped CR2032 batteries, which happen to be a size that's easy to swallow. Some battery...