Every file on your Mac is indexed: Emails, Documents, Photos, Applications… everything.

You can search this index using Spotlight.

How Does It Work

To use Spotlight, click on the small magnifying glass icon on the Menu Bar in the top right hand corner and start typing a search query.

Apple OSX Spotlight Box

Alternately, you can bring up Spotlight with the keystroke shortcut Command Space Bar.

Apple OSX Keyboard Shortcut - Command Space Bar

As you type, Spotlight preemptively attempts to locate what you’re looking for. The more characters you type, the quicker it zeros in on the file you are trying to find.

When you find what you’re looking for, DO NOT PRESS ENTER. This is a perfectly natural thing to do, but it just makes Spotlight disappear 🙁

Don’t worry…  You can bring Spotlight back by clicking the Spotlight icon or hitting Command Space Bar.

Items found by Spotlight are grouped by type: Applications, System Preferences, Documents, Folders, etc. If you feel the need, this listing can be edited in System Preferences.

If you’re using OSX 10.9 Mavericks, sliding the cursor over a found item in the Spotlight bar provides a small preview of that item.

macOS Spotlight in action

If you want to know where a found item is located, hover the cursor over it and press Option Command. The file path will appear.

Apple OSX Spotlight Provides The Location Of A File

If you want to open an item, simply select and click it.

Other Cool Things You Can Do You With Spotlight

Spotlight can save you time in many ways. Try to get use to hitting Command Space Bar to open Spotlight.

Launch Applications – Open Spotlight and type the first 2 to 3 letters of any Application and it quickly becomes the first choice.
Hitting Enter opens the Application. You can use this technique on any item you use frequently.

Spotlight-LauncherLaunching Applications With Apple OSX Spotlight

Use As A Calculator – Open Spotlight and type in any calculation, no matter how complex, and it will provide the answer.
The advantage that Spotlight has over Calculator is that it doesn’t deselect the document you’re working in.

Using Apple OSX Spotlight As A Calculator

Use As A Dictionary – Hit a word you don’t recognize. Open Spotlight and type in the word. The Dictionary icon will appear in the Spotlight results. Hover over it and the result will expand to provide a definition of the word.

Using Apple OSX Spotlight As A Dictionary

What If It Doesn’t Work?

If you find that you’re looking for items and can’t find them, you need to re-index Spotlight.

That’s it. Try it out, you might like it 🙂

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