Secrets of Spotlight Search on Mac


If you have been using macOS for a long time, then you are probably already used to Spotlight search, with which you can easily find almost any file on your Mac drive. In this article, we’ll share some helpful tips to help you interact with Spotlight search.


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How to invoke Spotlight Search on Mac

You can search using Spotlight by clicking the corresponding button on the macOS menu bar.

How to invoke Spotlight Search on Mac

In addition, you can invoke the Spotlight search field using hotkeys ⌘Cmd + Space some users install the combination Control + Space

The key combination for calling Spotlight, if necessary, can be customized along the way “System Preferences” → section “Keyboard” → “Keyboard shortcuts” → “Spotlight”

How to invoke Spotlight Search on Mac

How to invoke Spotlight Search on Mac

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How to customize Spotlight search on Mac

Before you can use Spotlight on macOS, you need to set it up. To do this, open “System settings” and go to the tab Spotlight

How to customize Spotlight search on Mac

First, open the tab Confidentiality… Here you can set search exclusions by adding folders that will never be counted in a Spotlight search. To do this, simply drag the folders you need into this window and click the button “+” for adding.

How to customize Spotlight search on Mac

In the tab searching results you can choose the file types to be displayed in the search results. Disable those types of files that you are unlikely to be looking for. In the same window, you can configure the order in which files are displayed in search results. Prioritize the files you deal with most often. For example PDFs, documents and folders.

How to customize Spotlight search on Mac

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Refine your Spotlight search

Usually, one or more words from the file name is enough for a Spotlight search. But sometimes there will be a lot of results and it will be simply impossible to display them all in the search box. In such cases, it is useful to refine your search query.

When searching for a specific phrase, you can highlight it with quotes. This will force Spotlight to search for this particular combination of words.

For an even more precise search, you can also specify the type of the desired file. For example, documents.

Refine your Spotlight search

You can optimize the number of results even more carefully by specifying, for example, the size of the image you are looking for.

For instance, type: picture height: 500

Refine your Spotlight search

In addition, Spotlight supports working with logical operators – “AND”, “OR”, “NOT”.

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Additional Spotlight features

Spotlight search, in addition to its direct purpose – searching for files on your hard drive, can perform some other actions, for example, perform mathematical operations, convert various currencies and values:

Additional Spotlight features

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Preview

If you are not sure if the file in the search results is exactly the one you are looking for, you can use the quick view. To do this, just click on the file name – a preview will open on the right side of the window.

Spotlight Preview

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Working with search results

Once you find the file you want, you can simply open it by clicking in the list. However, all files from the search results can be dragged to the desktop, Finder window, or program window to work with this file.

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Spotlight hotkeys

Spotlight also has a place for useful keyboard shortcuts. All of them are listed below:

  • ⌘Cmd + T – opening of the “top result”;
  • ⌘Cmd + B – to search the Internet;
  • Escape – to clear the search field or to close the Spotlight window when the search field is empty.
  • ⌘Cmd + ⌥Option (Alt) + Space – open a new Spotlight window in Finder;
  • Arrow to down – go to the next search result;
  • Up arrow – go to the previous search result;
  • ⌘Cmd – press and hold to show the path to the file;
  • Return (Enter) or ⌘Cmd + O – to open a file;
  • ⌘Cmd + I – opening file properties.

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