Mastering Spotlight For Mac

If you have used your Mac for quite some time, chances are your files and stuff are all over the places and you have difficulties finding and getting to them quickly when you need it. Luckily there is the Spotlight tool that keeps your sanity in check. Looking for that old document you wrote a couple of years ago? Chances are, you’ll find it in Spotlight. Here’s how to use the Spotlight tool correctly.


Spotlight is found on all Macs with Mac OS X 10.0 or later. On your Mac desktop, Spotlight can be found at the far top left with the magnifying glass. This is the central searching region for your Mac. Anything that needs to be found can be found in Spotlight. To activate it, simply click the magnifying glass or click “Command + Space Bar”. From there, you can search to your heart’s content.


The beauty of Spotlight is that it can search through just about anything. If you are searching for that photo from the trip to Tahiti to the song you just downloaded from iTunes, Spotlight can find all of that and more.

The biggest feature of Spotlight is the ability to search within applications. You can search for documents created in Microsoft Word to emails sent through Mail. If you want to find an email from your friend Jerry, all you have to do is type his name in Spotlight. Not only will you find that email from him, you’ll also find his contact information and any other correspondence with him. It will appear in Spotlight separated by application, allowing for quicker retrieval.

As is the case with multimedia, you can listen/view it directly in Spotlight. Documents can also be viewed in Spotlight, however due to the small font, it’s meant only as a way of being identified by the document style, rather than the content.


Changing the order of search

So it’s cool to have all of these amazing features, but you’d be surprised at what else Spotlight can do, once you explore the settings. Let’s say you are a person who is big on searching for documents and photos, you can save time on Spotlight by having these appear first in searching. To do so, simply go to “System Preferences -> Spotlight”. From there, simply click-and-drag the order of the programs.

Preview Multimedia

If you want to preview multimedia in Spotlight, this is even simpler. Simply search for the song or movie in Spotlight. For example, if you want the song “Tik Tok” by Kesha, simply search “Kesha”, and then hover (don’t click) your mouse over the song. From there, hover your mouse over the album cover, and then press the “Play” button.

Searching the Web

Finally let’s look at the basic, though underappreciated, web-searching tool. This allows you to search online without having to activate Safari. Simply type in the subject you want to search, as if you were on Google (or Yahoo if you wish). Then click “Search [your keyword] on the Web” or “Search [your keyword] on Wikipedia”.

As you can see, there are many benefits and hidden features found in Spotlight. The key is just knowing when and how to use the features in Spotlight. Which feature included in this article do you enjoy most? Let me know in the comments below.