20 tips and tricks to make the most of it

Spotlight is one of the many great tools you have on your Mac. It allows you to quickly and easily search for any file you want on your machine. You may be familiar with some of its features if you have been using it for a while.

The tool also has some advanced features that most users and websites don’t seem to mention. These features make the tool more useful and allow you to do more than just perform basic file search tasks within the tool.

How to Launch MacOS Spotlight

Spotlight can be called up in two easy ways on your Mac. You can click the search icon in the menu bar or press Command + Space shortcut to open the tool.

Launch apps with Spotlight

Disk Utility in Spotlight

If you can’t find an app in the Dock or in Launchpad, you can use macOS Spotlight to search for any app installed on your Mac. Simply put up Sparkenter the name of the application and it will appear.

Searching for specific file types

Search report type: pdf

If you are looking for certain file formats, such as PDF files, you can use kind filters to filter your search results. Search report type: pdf will only retrieve report files in PDF format. You can use any file format you want.

Using Boolean operators

Search report NO type: pdf

Boolean operators allow you to refine your search results using different operators. For example, if you just want to retrieve reports that are not in PDF format, you can search for something like Report NO type: pdf.

Filter your results by date

Filter results by date in Spotlight

Date filters allow you to find files that have been created or modified between certain date ranges. If you are looking for a file that has already been created, such as December 20, you will be looking for filename created: 12/20/2019.

Currency conversion

Those of you who follow multiple currencies will want to know the exchange rates of different currencies. Spotlight lets you do that easily. Bring up the tool, type in 100 USD to GBP, and you will have your US dollars converted to British Pounds. It works for many other currencies.

Unit conversion

Convert units in Spotlight

Spotlight also allows you to convert units. For example, you can enter 200 kilometers to miles and it will immediately show you the resulting metrics in miles. You can also use it to convert temperature and weight.

Find the meaning of words (Dictionary)

Find definition in Spotlight

You don’t have to open the dictionary to look up words because it’s built right into macOS Spotlight. Knock on define followed by the word you are looking for meaning and it will display the definition. You can search for any word in the dictionary.

Perform mathematical calculations

Mathematical calculations in Spotlight

Spotlight also works as a calculator and you can use it to perform simple as well as complex mathematical calculations. It works for simple things like 2 + 2 as well as the sine and cosine equations.

Open the folder containing the file

Sometimes you may need to open the folder containing your searched files. This can be done with a simple keyboard shortcut. Press Command + Enter while the file is selected in the results and it opens the folder in Finder.

View file path

View file paths in Spotlight

Mac has many ways to view file paths, and one of them is built into Spotlight. While you’ve selected a file in Spotlight search, press and hold Request Key. You’ll see the full path of the file at the bottom of the Spotlight window.

Find local places

Find local restaurants in Spotlight

If you’ve turned on location services on your Mac and you’re searching for certain places around you, Spotlight can help you find a variety of places. Search for words like restaurant, Pizza, hamburgersetc., and it will show you the facilities that serve these items around you.

Resize Spotlight window

The default Spotlight window size should be good enough for most users, However, if you want it to be slightly larger or smaller, you can also modify it. Place your cursor in the corners of the window and you can minimize or maximize it.

Delete search query

One of Spotlight’s habits is that it shows you previously searched results when you open it, even though it was closed the last time you used it. The easiest way to clear that search and result is to press Exit Key. It will allow you to enter a new query.

Open a Search Query on a Search Engine

If you can’t find the result you’re looking for in Spotlight, tap Command + REMOVE and it will search your specified query on your default search engine. It quickly opens your main browser and opens the search results page for your searched terms.

Follow live flights

Track flights directly in Spotlight

With live flight tracking, you can know where your flight is by entering the flight number. For example, if you want to see the current status of your Virgin Atlantic VS9 flight from London to New York, just type VS9 in Spotlight and you’ll see live flight details.

See weather information

See the weather in Spotlight

If you’re going somewhere and want to know what the weather will be like there, a simple Spotlight search will reveal that information. Knock on weather in San Francisco and it will give you current weather information for that particular city.

Use Natural Language Search

Recently, Apple has made significant improvements to the Spotlight tool and it now understands natural human language to some extent. Look for things like the file i opened yesterday will reveal a list of all the files you accessed yesterday.

Include/Exclude items

You can go to System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results to include and exclude different items from appearing in your search results.

More macOS Spotlight Features

Create notes with Spotlight

You can further enhance Spotlight’s capabilities by using an application like Flashlight. It allows you to add various plugins to extend the features of the already great tool on your Mac.

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