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Essential Spotlight Tips and Tricks Every Mac User Needs to Know



Here is a guide on how to get the most out of the Spotlight on Mac with the essential Spotlight tips and tricks every Mac user needs to know.

Spotlight is the readily available search tool for you to use in macOS, yet there are quite a few things that Spotlight can do that may not be as widely advertised.

Learn how to better use Spotlight on Mac to be more productive and use your Mac better.

Spotlight Tips & Tricks

Here are the steps to get to know Spotlight a little better and use it to your advantage.

Watch the above video for more information on the different uses of Spotlight on your Mac.

How to Use Spotlight to Search

The main reason for Spotlight is the aforementioned search functionality. If you need to find a file or image on your machine, you can click the Spotlight icon in the top right corner or use the keyboard shortcut Command + SpaceBar.

Launch Apps with Spotlight

To begin a search, you simply need to type terms of what you are looking for. For example, typing in the name of a contact that you cannot locate an email from. Or if you just need to quickly open an app, you can type its name in to open it quickly. Spotlight is very intuitive and usually will be able to generate matching items within a few short moments.

Clicking these matches will allow you to see the result within an app or within the Finder. Showing within Finder will open a new Finder window and breakdown the different locations of the files and allow you to open them more selectively there. You can also add different search parameters including file type, date created and more.

Enter Search Terms in Spotlight

The search features of Spotlight are easily some of the best I have used on any OS and the indexing of your data is remarkably fast and accurate. There has rarely been a time where I have not been able to access my data that I am searching for when using Spotlight to Search.

Spotlight Tips & Tricks

Spotlight also has a few hidden features which may also prove very useful to you. One of the easiest to use is using Spotlight’s Dictionary support. If you need to know the meaning of a word, simply enter it as a Spotlight search term and scroll down to the Dictionary tab. You should be able to see the full Dictionary page after selecting this result.

On a similar note, inputting mathematical equations into Spotlight will generate results as if you were using the Calculator App. You will need to type your numbers in yet if you are using a 10-key keyboard, this shouldn’t take any extra time. Inputting the equation as if you were reading it, 4+4, will instantly generate 8 and showcase it both in the Spotlight field as well as on the dropdown screen. This is one of my most used features of Spotlight and beats even taking your iPhone out for a quick calculation.

If you are connected to your network, you can also get information about Sports teams by typing in the name of the team. For example, typing “Lakers vs” into your Spotlight, will pull up both the recent games of the Lakers and the W/L stats as well as upcoming games.

Sports Stats in Spotlight

Another very quick one worth mentioning is the Weather integration. You can type into Spotlight “(Your City) Weather” and within moments, should have a current forecast and upcoming forecast displayed right within your search bar.

You can also look up music and movie information to be shown showtimes for local theaters, or iTunes purchase information.

Theater Showtimes Available in Spotlight

You are also able to move the spotlight window away from its default center-screen location and move it elsewhere if you would prefer it that way. You are also able to elongate the screen by dragging the arrow cursor down on the bottom of the window.

Spotlight is one of the best features of macOS and Mac OS X before it. I have appreciated the increased integration to other apps over the years and am definitely excited to see how they further develop it.

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