How to Find The Path of a File in Mac

Finding the path of a file on a Mac is a fairly straightforward process. There are multiple ways that you can do this, and there is one quick method that allows you to get it done in just a few simple steps.

I’m Eric, I work with computers and software on a daily basis so finding the path of a file on any computer system is second nature to me. For most systems, there’s not much to it and I can show you how to do this on a Mac in just minutes.

In this article, we will go through a specific step-by-step method in which you will see the quickest and most efficient way to find the path of files on your Mac.

Let’s take a look and you too will have this mastered in no time.

How-to Find a File’s Path

There are many reasons that someone may need to find the path of a file on a Mac. Whatever your reason may be, there’s no need to worry because you can use the steps below to easily accomplish this.

Things to Prepare

  • You will need to have access to the file whether it is on your desktop or in Finder.
  • If you don’t already have the file on your desktop or available in a window, you will need to know the name of it and search for it using Finder.

Use the steps below to search for the file.

Step 1: Open Finder so you can search for the file.

Step 2: Hit the Command and F keys to bring up the search window.

Step 3: Type the name or part of the name in the search field.

Step 4: This should display the file that you are looking for in the window and you will now be ready to find the path information for it.

Find the Path with the Context Menu

There are all kinds of fancy ways that you can get the path of a file, but the easiest and quickest way is to just use Mac’s built-in context window. Just follow these steps.

Step 1: Select the file that you wish to find the path for. This can be on your desktop or a file you find in the search window using Finder.

Step 2: Right-click to bring up the context menu.

Step 3: On the context menu select Get Info. This will bring up the Information pop-up window for that file.

Step 4: Click on the General section to expand it.

Step 5: When the General section opens up, you will see information about that file. The Where: section shows the path of the file which is where it is located on your computer.

These steps provide the path of the file you are looking for as shown above. If you are looking for a file’s path then you probably need to use it for something. The path above is fairly short and may not be difficult to re-type, but some paths can be very long.

What if the path you have found is lengthy and you need to enter it into an email or some other application? 

It will be a real pain to type the entire string of characters. Luckily, there is a way to copy this into your buffer so that you can just paste it wherever you need it.

Let’s take a look at how to do that.

How to Copy The Path to The Clipboard

Now that you have the file’s Info window opened, copying the path into your buffer is an extremely simple process. Once you have copied it, you can then paste it as text anywhere that you need to. 

If you have already closed the file’s Info window, no worries, just use the same steps that you used above to open it and find the path again. Once you have it displayed use the following steps to copy it.

Step 1: Use your mouse pointer to select the path text in the Where field under the General section. Make sure you get all of it, from beginning to end.

Step 2: Right-click and select Copy. (You can also use Command+C to copy)

It’s that simple. The path text will now be in your buffer or on the clipboard. You can paste this into any text editor or other fields that accept text entries. Right-click into the text field and then click on Paste (or hit Command+V) and your text will be inserted.

What Exactly is a File Path

Now that you know how to find the path of a file on your Mac you may still be wondering what a file path actually is. It can be thought of as exactly what the name says. It is the path that leads to where the file is stored on a hard drive or any other type of media.

If you use Finder to click through each folder down to the subfolder where a file is located, you will actually be going through each part of the path. 

By taking each folder and subfolder in the order that you must go through them and separating them by a / (you’ll also have to add one to the beginning), you will have the path.

See the image below that uses the path from our example above.

Looking at the image above, the path is /Users/ericwinker/Documents/test.

Folders or directories are used to organize files on your computer and having the path or sequence of folders that lead to your file provides a quick way to get to and access files. 

Although you may not need to use them very often, applications on your computer use them all the time to determine where important files are or where to store your files. There are times when applications will ask you for a path to a specific file.

Other Methods for Finding File Path on Mac

There are other methods for finding a file path such as using a terminal window. You can drop a file into the terminal window and it will show you the path of that file. Watch this video to learn more:

There are also search commands that you can type into the terminal window which will show you the path. 

Final Words

Keep in mind that many times when an application is asking for a file path, it wants the file name included with it. You will simply add another / and the filename to the end such as /Users/ericwinker/Documents/Test123.png

This tutorial has shown you the most basic way to find a file path on a Mac and we hope that you will now be comfortable executing these steps whenever needed. 

As usual please let us know if you have any questions or difficulties with this process.

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