How to easily delete files of the same type in macOS Sonoma Finder

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Apple MacBook Air M2

Cliff Joseph/ZDNet

I recently realized that I have a lot of files that could be deleted from my MacBook Pro. The files in question were all .dmg installers that are no longer needed (eg apps already installed).

I could go through the Downloads folder and select each of those files and delete them, but that’s a slog, especially when the folder is full of files you want to keep.

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I don’t always have time to manually search for similar files in crowded folders. When this happens, I turn to Finder’s built-in search feature, which greatly simplifies the process of locating specific files.

How do you use this super-handy feature? Fortunately, it’s pretty easy — once you know the trick. Let me enlighten you.

How to Find Similar Files in Finder

What you will need: To use this feature, you need a MacOS device (such as a MacBook or iMac) with an updated version of MacOS You should keep your operating system as up to date as possible to ensure you are protected from bugs and vulnerabilities.

That’s all you need.

The first thing is to open the Finder, which you can do from the MacOS Dock. When Finder opens, you won’t see any clear indication of how to locate these files without using the old “hunt and peck” method.

MacOS Sonoma's Finder app.

There is no obvious way to search in the Finder without taking steps.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZdNet

With Finder open, navigate to the folder you want to search, such as Downloads, and hit the Command + F key combination. If you prefer to use the menu, you can click the File entry in the menu bar and click Find.

You should now see the search options for Finder.

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Let’s say you want to locate application installation files (which end with .dmg). Make sure Kind is selected from the left drop-down menu. For the right drop-down, select Archive and a full list of all the .dmg files you have in the download will appear. The only caveat to this search is that, by selecting Archive, you’ll also see .zip files included in the list.

Finder search feature.

As you can see, search results currently include both .dmg and .zip files.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZdNet

To view only .dmg files, you’ll want to add another condition. To do this, click the + under the first condition (Kind + Archive). For that condition, select name And then ends with. Finally, type .dmg in the text field on the right ends with.

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At this time, only .dmg files will be displayed. If you want to delete these files, click the results pane, hit Command+A and double-tap (or right-click) and select Remove the trash.

Added two search conditions to the Finder Find feature.

You can add as many filters as you need to continue narrowing your search terms

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZdNet

And that’s it for batch-deleting similar files in macOS Finder. You can apply this to all types of files, and even add date criteria to further narrow your search. It might not be the easiest thing to do, but it’s definitely more efficient than manually deleting files one by one.

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