MacMost Now 899: Customizing Spotlight Menu Searches

http:.// You can decide what types of files appear in the Spotlight menu when you search. You can remove types, and also re-arrange them so the ones important to you appear first. You can also hide folders from Spotlight searches to reduce your results. You can also search for a specific type of file on a case-by-case basis.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 899: Customizing Spotlight Menu Searches.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's look at customizing the results that you see in the Spotlight menu.

When you go to the Spotlight menu you can do a search and then you get a list of all these different things that can be found. You can see that there is different categories. For instance there is Documents, you get Folders, Music, Movies, all sorts of things like this.

Well, you can customize what is here. Maybe eliminate some things that you don't normally search for. You can also change the search order.

To start go to Spotlight Preferences. You can get to that in System Preferences or by going to the very bottom of the Spotlight menu and simply selecting it.

Now once you are here you can see there are two tabs; Search Results and Privacy. We are going to use both of them. You can see all the different categories here that correspond to the things we saw. You can see, right here quickly, things like pdf documents, web pages, that kind of thing all listed here. You can see the order matches the order that they are here in this.

First thing you can do is reorder things. Like for instance if you are always searching for pdf documents you can move this one to the top or near the top. You can also turn things off like System Preferences. I know where to find those so I don't really need to have them in the Spotlight menu. I may not want to have things like Messages & Chats and I may not want to have my music to show up in Spotlight search, I just go into iTunes and search for that. You can turn off all sorts of different things here.

Once you have narrowed down to only the things you want to search for then you can use Spotlight menu a little more effectively. Now you can see there is a lot less things here. We can turn off even more. Let's turn off a whole bunch of things here and only have Events, Folders, and Images and you can see that's all I see here.

Things like dictionary lookups and web searches are always going to be there because it is not really searching for them. Every word is going to be in the dictionary, at least it will try, and these are just links they are not really doing any kind of searching. They are just links to quickly search the web or wikipedia. So these stay there all the time and these things will appear and disappear depending upon whether or not you select them here. I can add Contacts back in and you see that it instantly adds it back in there and I can see Contacts.

Now suppose you do want to have things like Documents pdf files and Applications and all that there selected. You want to have more of a normal search. You can use Privacy here to limit what is searched.

So Privacy sounds like its something different than what it is. It is basically just excluding different folders. You can just add something here. So for instance if I don't want it to look in a certain folder, like say the Dropbox folder, or I don't want it to look in Documents under a certain folder here that maybe there is a lot of stuff in it that I just don't want ever to appear in Search, I can Choose it. It will add that folder there and I won't see items that are in that folder in Spotlight search anymore.

So you can really customize what the Spotlight search looks for so you can reduce the results. So for instance if you have a working folder that has thousands of different little files. Maybe you are a developer working on something using dictionaries. You can eliminate that folder and make these search results that much better because that folder is no longer part of it.

Now suppose you want to temporarily just search for a certain kind of file. Well you can do that with modifiers. Here I'm looking for the word sample and I can see I get lots of different things, music, movies, folders, etc. But I can add to it kind; (kind and then colon) and after that I can do something like pdf. You see I only get pdf documents. Now don't be fooled. It is not an extension thing. It's not the pdf extension you are looking for, it is the type. So if I want to look for microsoft word documents I use word not doc and I'll get not only doc files but docx files as well. So you can do different things like that. You can use Pages and Numbers and get those.

So I hope you found this quick tip useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 4 Responses to “MacMost Now 899: Customizing Spotlight Menu Searches”

    6 years ago

    Thanks so much Gary.
    Fantastic tips. Always bugged me about bloated search results.
    But rarely used, so too lazy to find solution.
    This really solves it though.

    patrice Dupuis
    6 years ago

    Thanks for this video. I’m on a french OS. I wander what is the terme ‘kind’ for french because “kind” doesn’t work for me.

      6 years ago

      Good question. Next time you are near an Apple Store, I would ask.

      6 years ago

      You might try using Google Translate and see what it comes up with for a French equivalent for Kind

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