Find things faster with these Spotlight search tips for Mac

Take advantage of your Mac’s built-in search feature to find things faster and easier than ever with these Spotlight search tips.

Spotlight Search Mac

When you need to find something on your Mac, you have the handy Spotlight search feature built right in. This convenient tool helps you locate documents, apps, and files as well as gives you suggestions if you so choose.

While Spotlight is super easy to use, you can do a lot more with it than you probably realize. You can narrow down your results quicker, get local information without much effort, and even do calculations.

For making the most of this cool tool, here are some Spotlight search tips for Mac.

How to access Spotlight

You have two very quick ways to access the Spotlight search on your Mac. The first and most obvious is the Spotlight search button in your menu bar. Click it, type, and search.

Spotlight search button in Mac menu bar

Alternatively, you can keep your fingers on the keyboard and access it by pressing together the Command + Space bar.

Note: It will invoke Siri if you keep pressing Command + Space bar for a little longer.

Customize Spotlight

You don’t have to have Spotlight search every nook and cranny of your Mac when you use it. You can decide for yourself what and where to search and enable or disable search suggestions.

Using Spotlight

As mentioned, you can get local information, add words to limit your results, do conversions, and more. Here are those Spotlight search tips to keep in mind the next time you use it.

Spotlight Showtimes Mac

Try some of these searches:

Weather: Type in “weather” and without even clicking, you’ll get your local conditions and forecast.

Restaurants: Type in “pizza,” “burgers,” “tacos,” or another kind of food you’re in the mood to eat and see local eateries.

Showtimes: Type in the name of the movie followed by “showtimes” and you’ll see times for that film at your local theater.

Calculations: Type in the calculation and immediately see the result, such as “3560*450” or “3560-450”.

Conversions: Type in what you would like to convert, like “3 cups to tablespoons” or “450 feet to inches”.

Definitions: Type in any word and see the definition or click Definition on the left.

File type and metadata: Type “kind:” before the kind of file you’re searching for like “kind:video” or “kind:pdf“. And you can include metadata to narrow down your results. Here are some examples:

  • kind:images created:1/1/19 – for images created on that data.
  • resume kind:document – for documents with the word “resume”.
  • kind:music by:”madonna” – for music by Madonna.
  • modified:<=1/1/19 – for items modified on or before a certain date.
Spotlight Modified Date Mac

Boolean operators: Use operators like “AND,” “OR,” “NOT,” and a minus sign (-) for “AND NOT”, to limit the search results. Here are some examples:

  • idb AND feedback – would search for items containing both words.
  • author:sandy OR author:sandi – would search for items containing either word.
  • kind:message date:1/1/19-2/1/19 NOT 2/14/19 – would search for messages between particular dates but eliminate those on a specific date.
  • vacation -chicago – would search for items with the word “vacation” but not “Chicago”.
Spotlight Boolean Operator Mac

For whatever you’re searching, you’ll see a list of apps, documents, and more on the left side as they apply. So, you could search for “emails from Sebastien last year” and see results in the Mail app on the left that you can pick from.

And to see all results for your search in Finder, double-click the Show all in Finder link. Your Finder window will pop open with your results.

Spotlight Show all in Finder Mac

Using Spotlight to find things on your Mac or on the web is simply convenient. And with some tricks like these, you can make your search more accurate.

Do you have any Spotlight search tips you’d like to add? If so, feel free to comment below!

And if you’re having trouble finding what you’re looking for, here’s how to rebuild the Spotlight index on your Mac.

Related Spotlight tips: