OS X Mountain Lion: Spotlight preferences

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Spotlight preferences

To set Spotlight preferences, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, and then click Spotlight.

Option Description

Search Results

To prevent a category from appearing in search results when you search using the Spotlight menu in the menu bar, deselect the category.

To change the order in which results are displayed, drag the categories in the list.

Spotlight menu keyboard shortcut

Spotlight window keyboard shortcut

Select one or both of these options and then choose shortcuts from the pop-up menus.

The symbol ⌘ refers to the Command key on your keyboard, and the symbol ⌥ refers to the Option key.

If a yellow alert triangle appears next to the shortcut you select, then the shortcut is already in use by another app. To open Keyboard Shortcuts preferences and view all the keyboard shortcuts in use on your computer, click the triangle.

If you have an Apple Mouse, you can use Mouse preferences to assign a button to display the Spotlight menu.


To add a folder or disk to the list of locations to exclude from searches, click Add (+) and then locate the folder. You can also drag a folder or disk from your desktop or the Finder into the list.

To remove a folder or disk from the list, highlight it, and then click Remove (-).

If you add a Time Machine backup disk to the privacy list, you continue to see messages that Spotlight is indexing your backup disk. This indexing is necessary for Time Machine to function properly and can’t be disabled. Spotlight excludes from searches any items you store on your backup disk that are not part of a Time Machine backup.

Published Date: Sep 4, 2015