3/11/219:00 am Mac Basics: Using Spotlight Search With a quick keyboard shortcut you can bring up Spotlight Search and look for files, launch applications, get various kinds of information. People use Spotlight Search in a variety of different ways. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Today let's look at the basics of using Spotlight Search on your Mac. MacMost is brought to you thanks to a great group of more than 800 supporters. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you can read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. So Spotlight Search is a convenient way to search for just about anything on your Mac in one place. You could bring it up by either clicking on the little magnifying glass icon in your Menu Bar or by using the keyboard shortcut Command Space. Then you type what you're searching for. Now there are a lot of advance uses of Spotlight Search. But basically is combines the searches from various types of information in one place. You can search for files, webpages, calendar events, email messages, applications, reminders, notes, and all sorts of other things. Just type what it is you're searching for. So, for instance, to search for a file maybe you would start typing the file name. It will show me the results. At the top I'll see some likely hits here. So it's going to suggest two files. But later on down below you'll see a section called Documents and there you will see a third file that matches. But you also see various other things. Like, for instance, in the next section you could see the Safari icon and you could see several suggestions there. So these would be web searches. Now you could use the arrow keys to move up and down this list. Command and Arrow will jump by section. With any file selected I could press Return and it will open that file. I could also press Command R and it will go to the Finder location for that file. Another thing I could do is use the Tab key with something selected and it will give me a preview on the right of what the file looks like. Now it's important to note that when searching for files you're not only looking at file names but also the contents of the file. So, for instance, I happen to know I've got this word in one file. You could see here it's going to suggest things like Safari searches but under Documents I see that file. If I hit Tab to preview it you could see the first word is that nonsense word that I created to show how Spotlight Search works. So you can find the contents of the file as well as the name of the file. However, if you just want to search for a file by name you can use name colon and then type some characters. So you could see here all I get are file results and only ones that have that in the file name. Now other common things that Spotlight Search is used for is to launch apps. So say if you want to launch an app like GarageBand you could start typing the name of the app and as soon as it comes up as the top hit it's selected. So I can hit Return and it will launch that app. You could also sometimes use abbreviations for apps like GB for GarageBand will bring that up as the top hit. So a lot of people use Spotlight Search as an app launcher. Instead of the Dock or Launchpad they simply hit Space, type a few characters, and then press Return to launch the app. In fact this is the way I launch most of my apps. Now if you want to customize Spotlight and also see what else Spotlight can search for go to System Preferences and then go to Spotlight. Then under Search Results you'll see a list of all the things, including Spotlight. If there's something you'd rather not have Spotlight show you can Uncheck it. For instance, if you're a graphic designer and you have a ton of fonts you may find that fonts are always showing up in your Spotlight Search results. You never want to see them there so you could uncheck Fonts. Now you can't search for fonts there anymore but they won't be cluttering up your results. Note that just about everything that you could do a Spotlight Search for you can do a search for in the specific app. So, for instance, for files I could go inside of a Finder window here and use Search at the top. This will only return file and folder results. It won't give me all the other things that Spotlight does. Plus I can search in specific locations. So here I can just search in my Documents folder or On This Mac. So if you just want to search for files you may want to do that in the Finder. As a matter of fact just like you could do Command Space for a Spotlight Search you can add Option to that and do Command Option Space and that will bring up a Finder window and have the search field selected. Notice some of the other things you can get in Spotlight Search results. You can get Events from the Calendar and reminders from the Reminders app. You can get Contacts. You can search your Bookmarks & History in Safari. You can search Messages in the Mail & Messages app, music in the Music app, and even System Preferences. So for instance if you wanted to jump right to the trackpad System Preferences you could search for Trackpad and then you'll see System Preferences show up right here. It's the first result. Select that and it goes right to the Trackpad Preferences. There are a few special items here. For instance Conversion and Calculator. So you could use Spotlight for math like this and you could even get pretty complex to get results of things difficult to do with the Calculator app. For conversions you could just type what you want and you'll see the obvious conversion there or to convert to a specific unit you could say in. You can get definitions as well. If you just type a word you'll get a definition here. You could see it appear right there. But if you use the word Define and then the word then it will come up as the top hit. Notice since I see this little arrow here on the right that means I can use Tab and actually open up a little preview here. So I can get the full definition without actually even opening up the dictionary app. If you type something that's obviously a webpage then it will come up with that as the top hit. Hit Return and it will open up that webpage in your default browser. Also notice here you'll see Siri Suggestions. This gives you things like news, sports scores, movie information, and weather. But you could also get things like Wikipedia information. So if I search for a movie it will come up and you could see it there at the top. If I hit Tab for a preview you would see all sorts of information as well as local film times if there were any. If I do Weather you'll see weather come up here and I can preview and see the weather. I could also ask for weather somewhere else and get the weather like that. Just type the name of the sports team you want to see sport's information like game times and scores. Sometimes when you type things you'll get Siri Knowledge here including Wikipedia entries. Clicking on one of those will give you a preview here directly from Wikipedia or you can jump to it in the web browser. So some extra tips. First, when you bring up this window you can move it around to position it better so it's not blocking something. If you ever want to get it back in its default location click and hold the magnifying glass until it pops back. The keyboard shortcut for Spotlight can be customized in System Preferences, Keyboard, Shortcuts, and then Spotlight. Here you'll see the keyboard shortcut for Spotlight Search and to search directly in the Finder. That works even if the Finder isn't the front-most app at the moment. Of course make sure these are both checked to be able to use them. So as you can see Spotlight does a lot. Different people use it in different ways. Some people just use it as an app launcher and will always search for files in the Finder. Other people will use it to search for files all the time. Some people use it to begin a web search or go to a website while other people will never use it for that. So it's a tool for you to either use or not use as you like. But if you do use it it is worth going into System Preferences and customizing the results. For instance I usually turn off things like fonts and also mail messages because I'm used to searching for mail messages in the Mail app. So I can reduce a lot of clutter that way. But I know people that will turn off everything except for Applications to make it easier to use as an application launcher. But it's easy to switch these settings on and off and find the ones that work best for you. Related Subjects: Mac Basics (34 videos) Related Video Tutorials: No related posts. Comments: 4 Responses to “Mac Basics: Using Spotlight Search” Mick 3 years ago Thanks Gary. Really helpful tutorial. I actually find Spotlight very unreliable and intermittent. Sometimes the Spotlight doesn't even show when requested using command + space. More often, Spotlight does not show any options when an entry is made in the Spotlight "bubble". For instance, typing " Mai" does not bring up any options to select. I really like Spotlight, particularly for launching Apps, but I find it's unreliability frustrating. Thanks Mick Will 3 years ago Thanks Gary. Very helpful as ever. At one point after I bought a new computer when I found Spotlight was very slow I discovered it was also searching all my TimeMachine backups. This was easy enough to fix but it was puzzling while it lasted. Mick 3 years ago @Will Please can you advise how you knew SL was searching within TimeMachine, and how did you cure it. It could be the reason my SL is very slow. Thanks Mick Dave Hunter 3 years ago Your "Basics" series is incredibly helpful. Every one including this "spotlight" review contains tips that I find immediately helpful. I am always impressed at what you have discovered, and how much I have missed by doing things the same way without analyzing my actions to see if they could be improved or made more efficient (keyboard shortcuts, finding calendar entries, seeing document content etc). It's a must for mid-range users. Comments Closed.