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How to Unlock the Power of Spotlight Search in OS X [Guide]

by Fahad Saleem

How to Unlock the Power of Spotlight Search in OS X [Guide]

Search Bar is an integral part of any OS these days, whether it is a mobile platform or desktop. The obvious reason for the inclusion of search option is the real difficulty in finding the apps and files from terabytes of data space in devices. The searching algorithms have been made searching efficient and quick over the time. The advancement in the built-in search of Windows led to the quick Google search. The searching process is even more expedited with some power parameters. The searching program, Spotlight Search, hasn’t been that successful for MAC OS X since it’s release in 2005. The reason might be the ease of sorting files or people may not care that much about searching. However, Spotlight provides plenty of useful features that make your journey through OS X really amazing. Even the people, who are used to Google searching, will appreciate this utility.


Navigating Primer

You need to activate the application using ⌘+spacebar or by clicking the magnifying glass. You can easily copy the files from search box and ⌘+click launches the highlighted file in finder. You can write the name of the app in the search string and run it directly. If you want to search the web, you just need to put your required string in Spotlight. It will find you the links based on your search string.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are the instructors to be told to the computer. You can easily search for strings using operators such as AND (for more than one string), OR (for either of the multiple strings), NOT (excluding items). You need to enter all the Boolean strings in capital letters. Take the example of looking for files that contain rock but not music as follows.

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Search can also be made more specific by removing multiple strings in parenthesis.

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File Extensions

You can search for specific file extensions in pretty much the similar way as you do in Windows searching applications by using “*.extension” string. You can redo the above search by removing the results containing .caf files.

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You can use the same effect using “KIND” when you want to find the specific file types.

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The above search will result in all rock music of top mp3. You can also mix search strings.


You can easily locate files using the range of the dates. You will use the operators like “Created” or “Modified”.

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You can even specify the dates as Today or Yesterday as well.


Spotlight search can also be used as a calculator to perform simple calculations as well as complex calculations.

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Searching Through Menus

You can even sift through the menus of the open app using Spotlight search as fast as it would access a file. This sub Spotlight can be easily accessed through the help button when the app is active.


Spotlight search is a wonderful tool to find the desired items in your MAC OS X. Intelligent usage will make your search quite easy.

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