How do I get more out of Spotlight on Mavericks Macs?

Most of us use OS X's Spotlight to look for things on our Mac, but it can do so much more, as these tips will prove.

How do I get more out of Spotlight on Mavericks Macs?

Hit Command + Spacebar to activate Spotlight.

Spotlight and apps

Spotlight lurks inside the Help window of most apps. People use this to find help on using an application, but you can also use the feature to find menu commands in supporting apps.

In this example, I'm searching for the Citations tool in Word. When I see it listed in the Help results, I simply hover my cursor above the item in the list and Word automatically opens the correct menu and shows me which tool to pick using a large blue arrow. This feature works in nearly every application on your Mac.

Show All in Finder

When searching in the Spotlight window, you'll be returned what the system thinks are the most likely results. To look at other results, simply choose "Show All in Finder," which appears at the top of Spotlight search results. Now, you can run the same search in specific folders.

Copy Files and Folders from Spotlight

To copy files and folders from Spotlight, run your search and highlight the item you seek using your cursor or the arrow keys. Now, hit Command + C to copy the file or folder. You can paste the copied item into Finder, a folder or even inside a Mail message using Command + V.

How do I get more out of Spotlight on Mavericks Macs?

Spotlight search options

Imagine you're attempting to reclaim space on your Mac; one way to achieve this is to delete large files you no longer use. Spotlight can identify these:

  • In Finder, click Command-F

The Spotlight-driven Find menu appears in the Finder window. Hit the small + button.

See those drop down menus marked "Find" and "Any"? In the first box choose File Size and add "is greater than" and set the size to 2 GB (or a size of your choice).

Spotlight will now return you a list of all files on your Mac larger than the size you've set, so you can scrutinize them to delete those you no longer require.

If you hit "Other" in the "Find" item, you'll find an enormous number of additional search criteria you can use.

Find the file path

You already know you can search for an item in Spotlight and hover your cursor above the search results list to get a Quick Look at the contents of that item, right? To get the full file path of an item once you have the Quick Look preview showing, just hit Command on your keyboard. A caption will appear at the bottom of the Quick Look window with the file name; wait a second or two and the caption will offer you the file path. Hit Enter while the Command key is still held down and you'll go to the file in Finder, rather than launching the file.

Contacts on the quick

Need a contact number fast? Write the name of the person you need to get in touch with in Spotlight search. If that person has an entry in your list, his or her card will appear in results. Click it to get the number. (If you intend doing this a lot, you may find it useful to click and drag Contacts to the top of the list in System Preferences>Spotlight>Search Results.

One more thing

Spotlight will run quick calculations for you: enter the calculation in the search field and the result appears in Calculator results.

I hope these tips help hint at the hidden powers inside Spotlight for Mac.

Mavericks Tips and Tricks

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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