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  • How to make Spotlight work for you
    Time: Sep. 3, 2020

     

    With speculation that Apple intends to create its own Google-replacing search engine, it seems to be a good time to focus on a few of the more

    powerful things Spotlight can already do for you on both Mac and iOS devices.

     

    Learn to make the most of Spotlight


    Command-Space to invoke Spotlight is the single most useful command on your Mac. It can help you find almost anything on your Mac or online.

    Want to open an app? Tap Command-Space and begin typing the app name until it appears, then press Return to launch the app. Want to open a

    document? Begin typing its name until you find it in the Documents view

     

    What does Spotlight search for you


    On a Mac, Spotlight searches all kinds of things for you, Applications, bookmarks contacts, documents, films, folders, fonts and so much more. You

    can limit the search categories it looks up in System Preferences>Spotlight where you uncheck asset types you don’t want included.

    When navigating results, just hold down Command and use the up/down arrow keys to slip between categories.

    Spotlight works a little differently on iOS devices, as search is organized on a per-app basis in Settings>Siri & Search, where you can set some apps not to be searched.

     

    Show all in the Finder on a Mac


    When you search for something on your Mac, you can ask Spotlight to show you all the search results – just scroll down the search results and let it

    know you want to "Show All in Finder" using the item you’ll find at the end of the list.

    You’ll be given a set of results that show all the items matching that term residing on your Mac.

    Tap the gears icon on the top row and you’ll find a range of tools with which to optimize that search: Group by Name to alphabetize the results,

    for example.

    You can also tap the small Save button to save a search. When you do, you can choose where to save this search item and it will automatically run

    when you select it.

    Like any other item you can drag the saved search into the left-hand column to your Favorites, which means that particular search will always be

    available in your Finder. This is useful when used with tags to manage project files.

    You can also copy files and folders directly from the Spotlight search results, rather than navigating to the original file.

    Finally, to get the full file path of a searched for item – to find where on your Mac it is – tap Command and wait a little while for the information to appear.

     

    A power search tip


    Spotlight on a Mac understands Boolian search queries. This means you can ask it to find, for example, a document written by a specific author

    that contains specific text. To do this, open a Spotlight window and write.

     

    Use your voice


    Yes, you can use Siri to make a search. But if you want to use Spotlight, don’t neglect that on both Macs and iPhones, you can dictate the search – so long

    as dictation is enabled on your Mac. On an iPhone or iPad, just tap the microphone button on the keyboard.

     

    Search in an app or find more


    You can focus your searches to a particular app when working with Spotlight on an iOS device. Begin your search and review the results you see; depending

    on the nature of those results, you may see the phrase "Search in App" – tap this to search within that app.

    In other cases (Files, for example), you may find the Show More button. You should tap this to find more results from within Files. If you use iCloud Drive, you

    should find Files search yields a very similar collection of documents to those on your Mac, assuming you sync them all.

    Don't forget, not every app contains items you are likely to need to search for. So you can prune the length of search result lists if you remove those apps

    you don’t want searched by unchecking them in the apps list in Settings>Siri & Search.

    I hope this quick whistle-stop tour of Spotlight on Macs, iPhones and iPads helps you make better use of Apple’s data indexing service, which now appears

    to (privately) index all the world's data, both online and on your device.