Extract all files from a series of folders

3 March 2013, 09:00

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Ever wanted to get all the files out of a folder and its subfolders? For example, if iTunes manages your music collection you might want to make a copy of the music files contained in the various subfolders but without also copying the folder structure. I do this to when creating SD cards full of music to play on my car’s stereo.

Or perhaps somebody’s sent you a load of images in a series of subfolders and you want to extract them without any fuss.

The solution is simple.

1. Open the folder using Finder, then type a single space into the search field at the top right.
2. This will open the search options, which will default to “This Mac” (i.e. all files and folders on the computer). Click the name of the folder from which you want to extract files, which will be alongside.
3. Click the plus (+) button alongside the Save button at the top right of the window. This will add a new line of search conditions reading Kind: All. If you’re attempting to extract ALL files then leave this as it is. If you’re attempting to extract just music, for example, then change the Any dropdown to something appropriate.
4. Click the plus button at the right of this new line, which will add another search condition. Change the first dropdown on this to read Name. Leave the second dropdown as it is, but in the field alongside type two quotes (“”).
5. In the Finder window below you should see represented all the files in the folder, and any subfolders it contains. You can then click and drag these in the usual way to another folder to copy or move them.

Know better?

I must be doing something wrong, followed all instructions, and got the end result, but as a list, it will not let me select all, I cannot drag anything outside of the window it was sorted in. If I click the icon view button to get the exact same result as the screen dump on your page, it only gives me a blank page. Please help, I am so close yet so far from achieving what I need.
Many thanks

— John Rizk · Feb 5, 01:57 AM · #

Worked a treat thanks.

Clive · Mar 1, 07:32 AM · #

John, I tried it again recently and it worked fine on El Capitan. Just try following the instructions again – maybe print them out?

Keir · Mar 19, 02:39 AM · #

You are a legend Keir, thanks so much for your help, I gave it another shot and it WORKS Woot Woot!!!!!

— John · Apr 8, 06:42 PM · #

THANK YOU SO MUCH! I hung up with Apple Care earlier, and they told me I would have to extract each file MANUALLY (I HAVE THOUSANDS!!) I found this, and was able to put everything in 30 seconds! I actually called Apple back and had them do a screen share with me, so I could teach THEM how to do it – so they can pass on more helpful info to their customers! Without you, I would have spent ANOTHER 24 hours working on this project! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH!

— Kate · Apr 22, 01:08 PM · #

Cheers works very good

— ranger · Feb 18, 07:46 AM · #

Thank you so much, I needed to find repeated files in a bunch of folders, you have saved me. Have an awesome day!

Elin Gómez Ronzón · Mar 9, 05:49 PM · #

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! This just saved me endless hours of needless work!

— Megan · Aug 25, 03:44 PM · #

Worked great…

— Salil · Nov 6, 09:41 PM · #

Very nice!

If anyone here work with Adobe Bridge you can go to the folder that contains subfolders click in Show > Show subfolder items. Then you select all files click in the right button over and click in > Move. Choose the place you want to move.


— Rodrigo · Jun 5, 05:22 PM · #

Very helpful! Thanks a lot!

— Elle · Aug 8, 11:36 PM · #

you are amazing! thank you so much:)

— Theodore · Sep 26, 06:31 PM · #

Thanks! Extracted 23,295 images. Now to find the ones I want.


Norman Fellows · Jan 6, 02:32 AM · #

Amazing! This worked, thank you. You are a national treasure.

Nathan · Jun 19, 05:26 AM · #

Very helpful, I wish I knew this long ago… Thanks a bunch! Searching for any files on my Mac is real pleasure now.

— Angel Kukushev · Jul 1, 01:38 AM · #

Thank you

— Sankarshan · Jul 12, 08:14 PM · #

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! This saved me a long slow descent into madness xx

— Megan · Oct 12, 07:02 PM · #

Thanks a ton! It worked like a charm.

— Prithvi · Dec 2, 09:07 AM · #

Hello, I am using Catalina 10.15.1 and am not able to get this search to show the music from the sub folders. I have settings of:
1. Opened Main Music Folder
2. created a space in the spotlight bar
3. Next to “This Mac” chose the folder
4. Selected + sign
5. added Kind -> Music -> All
6. Selected next + sign
7. added Name -> Contains -> “” in space

The folder sat all night saying loading but nothing has appeared from the search.


— Ranukic · Dec 5, 05:12 AM · #

Thankyouthankyou thankyo

— Ian Morrison · Jan 31, 06:58 AM · #

thank you!!!!!!! you really lightened my load

— sonidoselectronicos · Feb 25, 09:06 PM · #