4/28/209:00 am Tips and Tricks For Using Mac Spotlight Spotlight is a tool that most people just use to perform simple file searches. But you can do so much more such with it. Even file searching can be done more efficiently using a variety of tips and tricks. Check out Tips and Tricks For Using Mac Spotlight at YouTube for closed captioning and more options. Video Transcript: Hi this is Gary with MacMost.com. Today I'm going to show you a whole bunch of useful Mac Spotlight tips. MacMost is supported by more than 600 viewers just like you. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you could read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. So if you really want to master how to use your Mac then you need to learn certain tools. One of those is using Spotlight. Now you may already use Spotlight for some simple file searching. But you can do so much more with it. Now, of course, you can launch Spotlight by clicking on the magnifying glass here in the Menu Bar. But most people do it by using the keyboard shortcut Command Space. One of the most popular uses for Spotlight is to launch apps. You could simply hit Command Space and then start typing the name of the app and hit Return. So, for instance, you can start typing Pages. I don't have to complete the word for it to come up as the top hit and then press Return for it to launch Pages. But some apps have really long names. If an app has multiple words in a name you don't have to start spelling it out. You can just use its initials. So for instance for Font Book I can type f b and you could see it comes up with Font Book. It even works if there is no space. For instance gb will come up with GarageBand. You could do longer things as well. For instance if I type A i 2 it finds Adobe Illustrator 2020. Now if you're using Spotlight to search for files there are a lot of ways that you can specify exactly what you want. For instance I could type just some text there and it will come up with things like Spreadsheets, Documents, Contacts. All this stuff here. But if I want to specify I just want files with that in the name I could type name colon and then the name. No need for a space there. Now I'm only going to get results that have that in the name. So you can see a few applications, some spreadsheets, documents, but they all have the word test in the name. You can also use kind to specify a file kind. You could use things like Pages, for instance, and only find Pages documents. So now I'm looking for only Pages documents with the word test in the name. Then you could use things like created to actually specify a range of dates. Then do 1/1/2020. You could see there are no Pages documents created on that particular date. But I could do dash then 4/1/2020 and it will find the Pages documents created in that range of dates. You could also use modified as well. You can also modify using and, or, or not. The key is you need to use capital letters. So here I have name:test kind is Pages OR, notice the capital letters, kind is Numbers. Now I'm going to get results that are spreadsheets and Pages documents. If I were to then use NOT and then name and taxes you could see it would exclude those files with that in the name.So you can keep stringing things along here to specify exactly what you want. Now when you have a bunch of files like this you can use the arrow keys to go through them. So I can do arrow down to jump to the different files. I can see a preview on the right. If I hold the Command key down you could see from here a path to where that file is located. That only appears if you hold the Command key down. If you want to jump to that file you can do Command and then Return or Command R. Either one will open up a Finder window and take you to that document. If you want to get information on this file you can do Command i and that will just go right to the info window in the Finder without taking you to the document itself. Now notice how long this list can be sometimes. But it's broken into categories. So there's Documents, Contacts, Other, etc. You can use the arrow keys to move up and down one item at a time. But Command up and down arrows will move to the first item in each section. So you can quickly jump down. So say if you wanted to find Folders I could go and jump down using Command and the down arrow to jump to the Folder's section. Now when you're looking at Folders like this you could hit the Tab key and the selection moves over to the right. So now you could go through the items found inside that folder. You could use things like say Command r, Command Return to jump to that item. Now if you go all the way to the bottom and at the very bottom of the list is Show All in Finder. Hitting Return there will then bring up a Finder search with that search term already there. Now you should be able to use Command Option and then Return to do the same thing. But it doesn't always work. When I use it I often just get New Finder Search and it doesn't carry the results from Spotlight into it. So if you have something complex like this you can click on Show All in Finder and then you could see it jumps to it and it has all of that information filled in here in the Finder search field. You can see all of those same things work there as well as Spotlight. Now you can also use Spotlight to search the web. Normally you would launch the browser. You would type something in the field at the top and then hit return. But you could just type what you want here and do Command B instead of return and it instantly does the search in your default browser. It's the same amount of key strokes as doing it in the browser itself. There are other useful keyboard shortcuts you can use in Spotlight as well. For instance you could use the right arrow. I can start typing a file name right here and you can see it suggests something right there. If I use the right arrow it actually accepts the suggestion and moves the cursor over. If you want to delete what's in there you have two options. One is to the use Escape key. The other is Command Delete. Now you can search for events in the Calendar by just typing something that's part of a calendar event name. So here I come up with a lot of results. If I use Command and down arrow I'll eventually get to Events Reminders and see that there. If you just want to see the events I can do kind events and then that's all I'll get as part of the results. If I want to get a dictionary definition I can type any word. I'm going to get lots of results that are not definitions. So it may or may not be the first thing that appears there. If you just want to see the definition I could type the word define. I don't need a colon here. I could just use the word after it. Now if you just type a word it'll bring up the definition and you could move the selection over that definition and hit return to launch the Dictionary app. Or you can use Command and then the D to launch the Dictionary app for that word. On older versions of macOS you could use Command L to bring up dictionary definitions. But it seems like in Catalina that it's Command D. You've probably been told, over and over again, you could do simple calculations using Spotlight like 1+1 and you can get the result. But in fact saying that Spotlight does simple calculations doesn't do it justice because you can actually do very complex calculations. Much more that what you could do in the Calculator. For instance I could use parentheses to do something like this to get complex results that are hard to do in the Calculator app. Now another keyboard shortcut you could use here is Command C. That copies the result of a calculation. Now in another app if you do Command V it'll paste those results. You could do that with Files as well if you get the file path. So I can type in a file name here. I can then arrow down to find the exact item I want, do let's say this document here. If I do Command C at that point and then I switch over to the other app and do Command V you can see it pastes in the path. You can also paste into a Finder window and it'll put a copy of that file there. Now you may know you can type weather and get your local weather. But if you say weather and then in you can type in any city name and get the weather there. You can also use weather colon and then a name and get the weather. Of course you can use Spotlight to get currency exchange rates and conversions. So, for instance, if I wanted to do, you know, $50 and it would translate that automatically to euros by default. I can do, say, in yen and get yen. I can do 4 meters and it assumes yards. I can do something like 50 mph and it will give me kilometers per hour. So you can convert just about anything in Spotlight. You can get flight information by just typing in the official flight code. So here is the current status of this flight. Now to see sports results all you got to do is type something like say baseball and scores and it will come up with that information. Or you could type schedule and get that information as well. Of course right now that's one and same as all the games have been postponed. To see movie times you just type movie times and you'll come up with a list of movies. You could also say movie times and the name of the movie. Of course right now there's no real information out there since the movie theaters are closed. Now here are some things that allow you to customize Spotlight itself. One thing is you don't have to go with the default location inside of the Spotlight window. I can grab the top here, just above the text, wherever I want and drag it around. So I can reposition that wherever I want. Move it to another screen if I have multiple screens. I can also grab the bottom and drag it down to enlarge the space. If I want things to return to the default location and size all I need to do is click and hold the magnifying glass. After two or three seconds it snaps back into place. Now if you want to change what appears in Spotlight you can go to the Apple Menu and then System Preferences and then go to Spotlight. Here you'll see a list of things that could appear as a result. You can turn anything off. So, for instance, if you don't want to see your browser Bookmarks in Spotlight you can turn that off. Or you don't want to see Fonts there you can turn that off as well. Now you can always switch over to Privacy which is actually how you exclude file locations from Spotlight. So you can hit the Plus button here and if there's a folder that you don't want to look in when looking for files you can add it here. Add as many as you want to the list. So, for instance, I'll add my Movies folder here and you could see it adds it to the list. I can select it and hit the Minus button to remove it. One main reason you may want to include things here has nothing to do with privacy. But it could be that there's a certain location on your hard drive that's filled with files that flood your Spotlight search results. So, for instance you had an old project that had thousands of files in it. There's all sorts of text in there and those files are always showing up in your results. You could simply add that folder here and you'll no longer see those when you do searches. So your searches will be more relevant. So here are some more tips. If you just want to look for something you know is a Folder you can do kind:folder and then when you search it's all you're going to get as a result. Just like you can launch apps you can actually go to System Preferences using Spotlight. Just type what the preference pane is called. So, for instance, if I wanted to do Dock preferences I can type Dock. I'll see a bunch of different results. But one of those items there, as a matter of fact the first one in this case, is a Dock System Preferences. If I hit Return now it goes right to that in System Preferences. You can also use Folder paths in Spotlight. If I wanted to go to my System Library Folder I could do slash and then library like that and then that will come up as a top hit. I hit return and that's where I'm at. The System Library folder. Now if I wanted to go to my local library folder I could do tilde slash library and that brings me to my local folder. Using this little special symbol here, on U.S. keyboards it's found just above the tab key, you can specify you want your home folder. It's the same thing as typing users/and then your user name. You get to the same location. Tilde ~ is just a shortcut for that. So I could also do something like local documents, which is the name of a folder I have in my user folder, and you can see that comes up. Then hit Return and it takes me right to that. So you can use this as a quick way to navigate to a specific folder if you know exactly where it is. Now if you want to send somebody an email or text message you can do that using Spotlight. Start by typing their name. Then go down to the Contact section. Now you'll see their email address here and there will be buttons next to it. If you move your cursor there you can start a message or an email. Just by clicking there it will launch the appropriate app. You can also kind and then contact and then the name and it will only show you contacts. From there if you hit Return it opens up the Contacts app. From here you could hit different buttons, like Message, email, or Call, or Video chat with them over FaceTime. Now one of the reasons you'll be able to use this is that you have a folder filled with tons of files. Maybe it's an old project from work and those files keep showing up in your Spotlight results but they're not really relevant anymore. If you add the folder here then you'll exclude these files and the results you get will be more of what you want. There's even more you can do with Spotlight. For instance I didn't even mention that you could get stock prices. You can get Wikipedia information. You could get things from other apps you've got like for instance Reminders and Notes. If you think about it there's really nothing that you need to use Spotlight for. You could do every other function using another app or in the Finder or some other way. Spotlight is primarily a productivity tool. It helps you get to the information and things that you need faster. That's why it's so important to be able to master it to get the most from your Mac. Related Subjects: Spotlight (7 videos) Related Video Tutorials: Mac App Switcher Tips and Tricks ― 21 Actually Useful Finder Tips And Tricks ― 20 Useful Tips and Tricks For Mac Numbers ― 30 Incredibly Useful Google Search Tips And Tricks Comments: 10 Responses to “Tips and Tricks For Using Mac Spotlight” Robert 6 months ago WOW…did not know most of those features. And have now reduced my right side Dock down to four items. Finder – Documents – Downloads – Trash. Now have a real clear and clean Desktop with only my custom background picture. Does Microsoft computers have a similar Spotlight type feature? Thank you for the hints – might not use all but definitely use some new ones that you showed. Joel 6 months ago Gary, fantastic tutorial, one of your best and most useful. I searched the internet to try to find a cheatsheet or listing of all the commands / functionality but was unsuccessful (i.e. most links provided a very brief listing, including’s Apple’s site). Wondering whether you have such a listing or know where one can be found? Thanks, once again! Gary Rosenzweig 6 months ago Joel: I think something like that would be difficult because what is possible depends on your System Preferences, settings in individual apps and parts of macOS. Scott Simmerman 6 months ago A Mac user starting back in the old days with a Mac Plus and remembering the excitement when I got a second disk reader and THEN, an external 20 MEG HD, you finally show me how to use Spotlight. Amazing. Thanks. Gary Rosenzweig 6 months ago Scott: One reason not to do it that way is that counting (and averages, etc) for an entire column would be thrown off by that row that is different than the rest. Also, when you double-click a column heading to select all of the cells in that column, you’ll get that extra row too, which could lead to errors when you paste. Using a separate table for that special value has a lot of advantages. Tim 6 months ago Excellent tutorial! Thank you so much. Shirley 6 months ago Open Spotlight and type in “Mail Downloads” with out the quotes, double click on the folder and you will find all the pictures and jokes that have added up (jpeg, pdf, png ets. Drag them to the trash. Sury 6 months ago Amazing. I didn’t know that so much could be done by Spotlight. Thank you very much. Braden Minaker 6 months ago Interestingly I found that when I try to use “define guitar” it doesn’t show up with a dictionary entry. For some reason that one didn’t work for me. I’m updated to the latest. I use spotlight to define things all the time, so I would love for that to work. Any idea why that didn’t work for me? Anybody else get that to work or have similar issue to mine? Gary Rosenzweig 6 months ago Braden: Not sure why that particular word doesn’t work. Comments Closed.