- How-to: Use Spotlight and Smart Folders to search for anything on your Mac - 9to5Mac
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You can work with anything in the results window exactly as though it were in a regular Finder window: Drag something to the Trash, rename something, press the space bar for a Quick Look at it, drag something to the desktop to move it there, drag something onto a Dock icon to open it with a certain program, Option- -drag it to the desktop to create an alias, and so on.
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You may have just slogged through 20 pages of Spotlight details—but, if you can believe it, there are another 40 or 60 someone could write. It turns out that the Spotlight most people see is only a subset of the true power awaiting in macOS. Fortunately for the true geek, Spotlight also understands a query language —a programming-like syntax that lets you establish far more specific and nuanced searches.
You may also get a kick out of studying how Spotlight uses the query language itself. To do that, create a smart folder, and then Get Info on it. On the General panel, inspect the string of query text that Spotlight generated behind the scenes as shown above. This one, for example, finds all audio and video files whose author is either Kevin or Steve that were modified in the past week:.
In the list of 6 gazillion search parameters, choose Raw Query. You can type your elaborate search string into the text box that appears. The main command you want to learn about is mdfind. Spotlight: The Missing Manual? Has a nice ring to it. Actually, Cover Flow is a great view for search results; since this list is culled from folders all over the computer, you otherwise have very little sense of context as you examine the file names.
Sort the results by clicking the column headings in list and Cover Flow views. Arrange the results by using the Arrange pop-up menu button. That way, you group the results as described in Use as Defaults. It can be especially useful to clump them by Kind, so that similar file types are clustered together Documents, Images, Messages, and so on , or to sort by Last Opened, so that the list is chronological.
How-to: Use Spotlight and Smart Folders to search for anything on your Mac - 9to5Mac
Change the view options. The normal Get Info window appears, complete with date, size, and location information. Find out where it is. If you click once on an icon in the results, the bottom edge of the window becomes a folder map that shows you where that item is. MacOS highlights the icon in question, sitting there in its window wherever it happens to be on your hard drive. If one of the found files is the one you were looking for, then double-click it to open it or highlight it and press either -O or.
You can also double-click to open any of the folders in the folder map at the bottom of the window. Move or delete the file. You can drag an item directly out of the found-files list and into a different folder, window, or disk—or straight to the Dock or the Trash. Start over. Press -F to empty the search box and the Searching window. Give up. If none of these avenues suits your fancy, you can close the window as you would any other -W.
But you can tailor its behavior, both for security reasons and to fit it to the kinds of work you do.
Use Spotlight itself. Hit -space bar, type spotl, and press Return. Click Spotlight. Turn off categories.
The list of checkboxes identifies what Spotlight tracks. Change the keystroke. Ordinarily, pressing -space bar highlights Spotlight in your menu bar, and Option- -space bar opens the Searching window. If these keystrokes clash with some other key assignment in your software, though, you can reassign them to almost any other keystroke you like. Here you can specify a new keystroke, as described in Tip. Apple assumes no responsibility for your choosing a keystroke that messes up some other function on your Mac.
On the other hand, if you choose a Spotlight keystroke that macOS uses for some other function, a little yellow alert icon appears in the Spotlight pane. This icon is actually a button; clicking it brings you to the Keyboard pane, where you can see exactly which keystroke is in dispute and change it.
You can no longer drag these items up and down to control how the categories appear in the Spotlight results, as you could in some recent versions. You can hide certain folders from Spotlight searches. Maybe you just want to create more focused Spotlight searches, removing a lot of old, extraneous junk from its database. Either way, the steps are simple.
Open the Spotlight panel of System Preferences, as described previously.
Click the Privacy tab. When you mark a disk or folder as non-searchable, Spotlight actually deletes its entire index its invisible card-catalog filing system from that disk. If Spotlight ever seems to be acting wackily, you can use this function to make it rebuild its own index file on the problem disk.
Just drag the disk into the Privacy list and then remove it again.
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Spotlight deletes, and then rebuilds, the index for that disk. If you add a disk to the Privacy list, Spotlight is no longer able to find anything on it, even if you can see it right in front of you. A smart folder is a self-updating folder. Smart folders are a lot like smart albums in iTunes, smart mailboxes in Mail, and so on. If you decide your original search criteria need a little fine-tuning, click the smart folder. From the menu, choose Show Search Criteria.
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Use the pop-up menus and other controls to tweak your search setup, and then click the Save button once again. To delete a smart folder, just drag its icon out of the Sidebar. Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform. With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.
Start Free Trial No credit card required. The Spotlight Menu.
Tip You can make this results window taller—drag downward on its bottom edge—or move it around the screen drag its top bar. Press -space bar, or click the magnifying-glass icon, to make the search box appear. Searching Your Mac. Tip The Spotlight menu is a full-blown English dictionary, too. Searching the Internet. Tip For recent movies, you see the critical rating from RottenTomatoes. You can use Spotlight to call up details about any movie, past or present if your Mac is online.