Inevitibably, the day will come when you will forget where you placed a file or folder. Luckily, Mac OS X includes a powerful tool to help you find lost or hidden items with ease called Spotlight. Introduced in Mac OS 10.4 Tiger, Spotlight technology allows you to find anything on your computer so quickly that it’s amazing and has been greatly improved in Lion. When Lion was first installed on your Macintosh, it indexed every file on your system. Any file you add after that is automatically added to the index, allowing for lightning-fast searching. You can add additional metadata keywords to your files and folders from the Get Info window which will then be added to the Spotlight index.
Spotlight supports the following file types (and is constantly adding more):
- Address Book Contacts
- Adobe PDF and Photoshop files
- Calendar Events & To Do’s
- HTML files
- Image files (.jpeg, .gif, .tiff, .png, .bmp)
- iWork documents (Pages, Numbers & Keynote files)
- Microsoft Office Documents
- Plain Text
- Video & Audio files (.mp3, .aac, .mov)
A Spotlight search can be executed in two main ways – from a Finder Window or from the menu bar on your Desktop. Using Spotlight from the menu bar is the easiest way to conduct a search. On the upper-right-hand corner of your screen, is a magnifying glass icon. Click the icon to display the Spotlight search box or you can press the keystroke combination ⌘ + Spacebar. Then, click in the search box and type in a character, a word or several words to find an item.
As you type, a menu appears displaying the top 20 matches to what you have thus far typed. The matches are grouped in categories such as Applications, PDF’s, Documents, Messages, etc. To see a preview of an item, move your mouse cursor over the item in the results list – a preview of the item will display in a small window to the left of the results list.
To view an item, click its name in the list or if the desired item appears first in the list, press Return. To view a list of all matches, click Show All in the menu.
You can even use Spotlight to perform mathematical calculations. Simply type your calculation in the Spotlight box and the result will usually appear first in the list. To quickly open an Application from Spotlight, type in the name of the application (Book, PhotoShop, Word, Mail, etc.). The application will usually display first in the list. Press Return to launch the item or click it in the list.
Performing a Spotlight search from the Spotlight window will be discussed in another post.
To Find Files using Spotlight
- Click the magnifying glass icon on the upper-right hand corner of the Desktop on the menu bar
Click in the Search field on upper-right-hand corner of any Finder Window
Press the ⌘ + Spacebar keystroke combination.
- Type a character, word or group of words for which you want to search.
- Click the item in the results list to display it or press Return if the item appears first in the list.
- Move your mouse pointer over an item to view it in a separate preview window.
- To see a list of all matches, click Show All in the menu.
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