How do I return to my last work files and folders?


Am I missing abilities that OS10 has (Mojave latest)?

I have used Windows for 20 years. In Win7 and Win10, it is possible for you to sit down at your computer, and get right back into where you left off, because windows has "recency." Win7 better than Win10, but new features in Win10 take this idea much farther. You can open recent folders, or recent files, and be back right where you were when stopping in your last log in. You can open recent files and folders. Win10 lets you scroll the desktop right back in time.

The "recents" on MacOS just shows stuff you have done lately--- it's useless because it is only what has and was open lately, but never sooner than a couple days it seemed. It's smart folders and recents and other attempts at taking you back to where you just worked are not functional or useful.

Am I missing something?



Rosie Moderator
Staff member
Are you looking for a document that is older than a couple of days that recent will not show?

If you open the folder that you are saving your work to - say 'Documents' you can have the window show your files by the title or by the most recent date modified. In the window of that folder - just click on the column title - Name will give you alpha order, Date Modified will show you the files from the latest to oldest (or visa versa).

You have to create a smart folder and save to the smart folder for it to be functional.


Thanks for the reply Cheryl. No, I want to go to my most recent files. I could create a folder on the desktop, say, in the morning, and put my work there, and easily reopen the folder after lunch, and I'm back where I was. But that is me doing it, not MacOS. There are other recent things I want access to as well. I can't do it for everything I work on. I want this ability in MacOS. It is in windows and for many years is how I operate in Windows. I go to recent places and I see all the recent folders I have worked on and recent documents and files as well.

I have created a smart folder for recent_stuff and designed it to keep recent stuff but things in there are two days old....pretty useless.

Can you explain your idea of using smart folders? Say in the morning I am working on "data cleaning" and I create a smart folder "data cleaning" and work within that folder. How would I go back to it and get everything I worked with in the morning?



Under the Apple menu, go down to 'Recent Items'. There you'll find 10 ea. Applications and Documents.


  • Screen Shot 4.jpg
    Screen Shot 4.jpg
    145.8 KB · Views: 0


Use a smart folder.
Change the criteria for the smart folder, so you have documents that are less than (whatever) days old. You can change it so you only see documents, even if you have only viewed (opened) a document, and have not modified it (or applications, or whatever other kind of files that you might want to have in that smart folder).
Smart Folders are your key. You can add a lot of (maybe useless) criteria easily, by clicking on the little (+) in the top left of the folder.
If your listing in that smart folder is no newer than when you made the folder, then you need to change the folder criteria, until it does what YOU want. It's a "smart folder", but it can't read your mind. You have to decide what you want that folder to do, and that's the criteria selection. Give it a chance.