MacOS Spotlight: 20 Tips & Tricks to Get the Most Out Of It.
Spotlight is one of the many great tools out there on your Mac. This allows you to quickly and easily search for any files on your computer. Chances are, you are already familiar with some of its functions if you have used it for some time.
The tool also has some advanced features that most users and sites don’t talk about. These features make the tool even more useful and do much more than just perform basic file search tasks in the tool.
Ways to launch macOS Spotlight
Spotlight can be invoked in two simple ways on your Mac. You can either click the search icon in the menu bar, or press Command + Space to open the tool.
Launching Applications with Spotlight
If you can’t find an app in the Dock or Launchpad, you can use macOS Spotlight to find any app installed on your Mac. Just open Spotlight, enter the name of the app, and it will appear.
Search for specific file types
If you are looking for specific file formats, such as PDFs, you can use the type filter to filter the search results. Search for report type: pdf will only extract PDF report files. You can use any file format you like.
Use logical operators
Boolean operators allow you to refine your search results using various operators. For example, if you only want to get reports that are not in PDF format, you might find something like report NOT kind: pdf.
Filter results by date
Date filter allows you to find files that were created or modified in specific date ranges. If you are looking for a file that was created on, say, December 20th, you would search for file name created: 20/12/2019.
Those of you looking for multiple currencies will want to know the exchange rates for different currencies. Spotlight makes this easy. Open the tool, enter $ 100 to GBP and your US dollars will be converted to British Pounds. It works for a number of other currencies.
Spotlight also lets you convert units of measurement. For example, you can enter 200 kilometers in miles and it will immediately show you the total miles. You can also use it to convert temperature and weight.
Finding word meanings (dictionary)
You don’t need to open the dictionary to find a word as it’s built right into macOS Spotlight. Enter the definition and then the word you are looking for the meaning and it will display the definition. You can search for any word from the dictionary.
Spotlight also acts as a calculator, and you can use it to perform both simple and complex math calculations. It works for simple things like 2 + 2 as well as sine and cosine equations.
Open the folder containing the file
Sometimes you may need to open the folder containing the file you are looking for. This can be done with a simple keyboard shortcut. Press Command + Enter when a file is selected in the results and this will open the folder in Finder.
Viewing file paths
There are several ways to view file paths on Mac, and one is built into Spotlight. With a file selected in Spotlight search, press and hold the Command key. You will see the full path to the file at the bottom of the Spotlight window.
Find Local Places
If you’ve turned on location services on your Mac and are looking for specific places around you, Spotlight can help you find many places. Search for words like restaurants, pizza, burgers, etc. and you will see places that serve these dishes.
Resize Spotlight Window
The default Spotlight window should be large enough for most users, however, if you want it to be slightly larger or smaller, you can also change it. Place your cursor in the corners of the window and you can zoom in or out.
Clear search query
One of Spotlight’s habits is that it shows the results you were looking for before when you open it, even if it was closed the last time you used it. The easiest way to clear this search and results is to press Esc. This will allow you to enter a new request.
Open search query in search engines
If you can’t find the results you’re looking for in Spotlight, press Command + B and it will search for the query you specified in the default search engine. It quickly opens your main browser and opens the search results page for the query you’re looking for.
Real-time flight tracking
With real-time flight tracking, you can find out where a flight is by simply entering its number. For example, if you want to see the current status of Virgin Atlantic flight VS9 from London to New York, simply enter VS9 in Spotlight and you will see the flight details.
Viewing weather information
If you’re going somewhere and want to know what the weather will be like, a simple Spotlight search will show that information. Enter the weather in San Francisco and it will give you the current weather information for that specific city.
Use natural language search
Apple has made significant improvements to the Spotlight tool lately and it now understands natural human language to some extent. Searching for things like the files I opened yesterday will show you a list of all the files you accessed yesterday.
Include / exclude elements
You can go to System Preferences Spotlight Search Results to include or exclude various items from search results.
Add additional macOS Spotlight features
You can further enhance Spotlight’s experience with an application like Flashlight. It allows you to add various plugins to expand the capabilities of an already great tool on your Mac.