MacMost Now 310: Searching for Files with Spotlight

Learn the basics about searching for files with Spotlight.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 310: Searching for Files with Spotlight.

Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. Today let's look at using Spotlight to search for files. So today let's look at an excerpt from my book, The guide to Switching to the Mac. In chapter five I talk about working with files and folders, and on page 84 I look at using Spotlight to search for files. There are several ways to search for files in Mac OS X. At the top right of every finder window is a search box. Just type something in that box and the finder window changes to a Spotlight window. Spotlight is just the name that Apple gives to the search functionality in the finder. A Spotlight window is a finder window that shows search results rather the contents of one folder. Here you can see a spotlight window with the results in the main area and the search criteria on top. You can view the results, a set of icons or select the list view button at the top of the window to see it in the list. You can also choose to view them using cover flow. At the top of the Spotlight window, in addition to the search field, is a set of buttons with names next to the label search. You can usually choose whether to search this Mac or the current folder that was selected when you started typing in the search field. You can also select contents or file name. The default is to search the contents of the files, but sometimes this can return too many results. Searching by filename is better if you already know part of the name of the file and don't want results that also include that text as part of the contents of the file. When you have some results you can click on one of the columns to sort by that criteria, such as name or kind. At the bottom of the window you can see the path to the file that you have selected. You can also click on the plus button at the right side of the spotlight criteria area to add another rule to your search. You can add as many rules as you want, and change the rules as you need. Using control click or right click on a Mighty Mouse, and you'll get a contextual menu with choices like open, open with, or open enclosing folder. So that's just a look at the basic spotlight functionality. The next section of the book goes on to use the spotlighted menu for even quicker searches. You can find out more about the book at It's on sale right now in stores across the world and also at online stores like Hope you check it out. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with

Comments: 4 Responses to “MacMost Now 310: Searching for Files with Spotlight”

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    7 years ago

    Yes thats exactly what comes up when i do it, but as you say in your video it brings up a lot of other files as well. When they show up can you not just drag them out of the window. I was trying to find Final Cut,and it showed up. I know your video is very basic,but i am getting on in years. In your video you make it simple,and it is.
    The problem, i am having is i just go brain dead. I wished you could fix that Gary

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    7 years ago

    My brain kicked in. I Found Final Cut straight away. It was in my external hard drive. It was the folders at the bottom that told me where it was.Thanks Gary

    7 years ago

    Spotlight in Lion.
    I am having some issues with spotlight in Lion. In the past when you searched a file from the spotlight icon in the main menu bar you could hover your mouse over that file and see where it was located. I can’t seem to do this anymore. It’s kid of pointless when your trying to move or delete the file if you can’t find it. Any suggestions? This normally only happens on pdf and other specific files, not folders.

      7 years ago

      Just Command+Click the item in the spotlight menu and it takes you right to the file in its folder.

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