Using the Spotlight Menu

You can use the Spotlight Menu to quickly perform searches for files. But search results also turn up applications, messages, your web history and other useful items. You can also access dictionary definitions and perform new web searches using the Spotlight Menu. You can customize what shows up in the list. You can also use the Spotlight Menu to perform simple or complex mathematical calculations.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using the Spotlight Menu.

Hi, this is Gary with Let me show you all the different things that Spotlight Menu can do for you.

I'm using Mac OS 10.9. We're going to take a look at the Spotlight menu which is this little magnifying glass up here at the top right. You can click it and you can type something.

Now it is much easier if you learn the keyboard shortcut which is Command space and that brings it right up.

Of course you can search for items using the Spotlight menu. Type in a name of a file and it will try and find it for you. It will find things in Applications. It will find folders with that name. Mail messages. Lots of files and all sorts of things. It will divide it up into all sorts of different file types and you can select anyone you want here to grab it. It will even give you a quick look at it.

So, you can for instance, for this image here, rollover it, and you see the quick look to the left.

The cool thing is that you don't have to use the mouse at all. So I can Command space and then use the arrow keys to go up and down the list and then select something.

Notice also that you get some other interesting things like Web Searches at the bottom, a Wikipedia search, and a dictionary Look Up. You can select any of these by simply going to it with the arrow keys and then hitting return. For instance this will launch the dictionary.

But that is not all you can do with the Spotlight menu. One of my favorite things to do with it is mathematical calculations. You can simply type the math equation like that and you will get the result below. You could also select the result and it will launch Calculator with that in it.

You can get pretty complex with this. You can do this and get some pretty complex formulas and get the results very quickly and easily. Much quicker sometimes than launching Calculator.

Now you can customize what comes in the Spotlight menu one of many different ways. Just start something like this and then we can see the bottom hit is always Spotlight Preferences. That will take us to System Preferences under Spotlight and we can set what appears here. So you can turn things on and off. Like if you don't want your music collection to ever appear there. You can also drag and drop items like if you want Contacts to always appear at the very top. You can change the keyboard shortcuts as well.

You also have the Privacy settings to be able to turn off Spotlight searching for various volumes or folders.

Comments: 5 Responses to “Using the Spotlight Menu”

    5 years ago

    Didn’t know about calculations. Thank You!

    Shirley Allan
    5 years ago

    If you just want to know where the Quick Look of a document is located, you can press Option + Command and at the bottom of Quick Look it will say where the item is stored on your computer.
    Shirley Allan

      Kate Sorensen
      5 years ago

      Thanks a million. I’ve wished this was possible for so long, and it was right under my nose. Wonderful.

      5 years ago

      Thanks a million. I always wanted to know how to find the location of a file easily. i always used to open the file and use the “get info” feature.

    5 years ago

    Didn’t know about the calculator ability in Spotlight, either. That’s great! Thanks a million, or should I say 1,000,000 :)

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