How to find a full file path on a MacBook

It can be difficult to get the correct file path when you’ve got loads of files — hundreds or even thousands isn’t unusual after a couple of years of using the same Mac. We attempt to solve this problem in this article for those tired of looking for files and file paths on a Mac. 

After trying Spotlight Searches or browsing through files, you might be ready to give up. At times, not knowing the right name can cause software conflicts. But don’t despair. There is always a way to locate a file path. 

How to get a file path on a Mac? 

To get a basic understanding of where your file is located, just right-click the file.

  1. Right-click the file.
  2. Click Get Info.
  3. Look up what’s written under General > Where — this area shows the enclosed folder of your document.

How to copy the file path 

Copying any text from the previous window isn’t easy, obviously. But still, you need a complete file address that you can copy and paste anywhere. So you do one extra step:

  1. Click Finder.
  2. Click View in the upper bar.
  3. Click Show Path Bar.

Interestingly, the file path will immediately appear underneath the Finder window.

  • Now, Control-Click the file you want the location for.
  • Hold the Option key.

You will see the new command that has appeared in the context menu — Copy …. as Pathname

  • Click the selected command.

You are now ready to paste. This information is pasted into the Clipboard. Make sure to complete pasting/moving it elsewhere, or this will be lost, and you will need to find the folder again. 

And that is how to get a folder path on a Mac. Nice and simple.

How to find large and old files

If you are looking for file paths because you want to find the largest and oldest files and move them to a new folder or delete them, doing it manually can be tricky. But there’s an easy way to find such files — Large & Old Files module that comes with CleanMyMac X (free download here). It sorts all your files by size, kind, and date accessed. You can then select files, choose Move to Folder from the dropdown next to the Remove button, and select the destination folder. Now, click Move. Or you can simply delete those files by clicking the Remove button and skipping the steps we outlined above. 

How to find the file path using Terminal

Also known as a folder path or directory path, they aren’t always easy to find. When every other method has failed, turn to Terminal as your solution. 

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities.
  2. Open Terminal.
  3. Make sure you are using it as a Super User, which means being logged in as an Admin, so type in sudo su  and press Return.
  4. Enter your password.
  5. Now, you need to have something of an idea of what this file might be called, so once you do, type in the following (insert the name of the file instead of randomfilename): find / -name randomfilename
  6. Give it time to process the query, which could take several minutes.
  7. A list of names should appear, some or many of which you can ignore as they will be followed by file-end names, such as “operation not permitted,” so focus on the ones that make the most sense, such as: /Library/Application Support/randomfilename/settings/
  8. Now, copy and paste the full name and drop it into Finder or Spotlight Search.

Alternatively, you can drag and drop the file onto the Terminal window, showing the full path. Hopefully, this will bring you to the file you need. 

A shortcut to see unlisted (grayed out) files

For those who love Apple — which for many is more than a tech company; it’s a representation of a lifestyle — we’ve got a fun fact for you. Did you know there is a shortcut combination to see hidden files?

Here is how you access the shortcut: 

  1. From Finder, go anywhere where you suspect there are hidden files, such as the Macintosh HD root directory or the Home folder.
  2. Next, press the Command-Shift-Period keys, which should show hidden files in that folder. 
  3. As you press the shortcut, the files are visible. If you press it once again, they disappear. 

Any hidden files that have been made visible will have greyed-out names and icons.

How to find other hidden files on Mac?

It isn’t always easy to know where you’ve put every file on your Mac. 

After a couple of years of constant use, a Mac can start to resemble a cluttered old-school file cabinet. Files in places that once made sense but are now in the wrong place. Files and folders should be in the right place but have been put somewhere else. Files that seemingly don’t exist or are floating around elsewhere. 

One solution is to download CleanMyMac X. It’s a handy and easy-to-use Mac performance improvement app. It comes with a few tools for finding unlisted, hidden, and large old files that have slipped through the cracks. Here is how you use it: 

  1. Download CleanMyMac X (download a free edition here).
  2. Click Space Lens > Scan.
Scan completed in Space lens module in CleanMyMacX

These blue bubbles represent all your documents in relation to their size. You can dive into these folders to reveal their contents — a more visual alternative to Finder. This feature, along with the Large & Old Files module we mentioned above, will highlight a few gigabytes worth of space you can free up, uncovering files that can easily slip through the cracks and become forgotten.

By the way, CleanMyMac X is notarized by Apple, which means this app is malware-free and safe to use on your Mac. We hope you found this article useful about how to locate and copy the file path details when searching for what you need. 

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

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