OS X Yosemite: Narrow down search results

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Narrow down search results

When searching in Spotlight or the Finder, you can add criteria to a basic search, perform Boolean queries, and search items’ metadata.

Add criteria to a search

You can focus a search by adding criteria to a basic search. For example, you can search for particular kinds of files, or for items created on a particular date.

  1. Click the Spotlight icon in the menu bar, then enter your search.

  2. Double-click Show All in Finder at the bottom of the search results list to open a Finder search window.

  3. Click Add on the right side of the search window, below the search field.

  4. Click the far-left pop-up menu, then choose your search criteria.

    For example, to search only a certain type of item instead of all items, choose Kind. Or to search for any item whose name contains a particular word or phrase, choose Name.

  5. To add more choices to the far-left pop-up menu, choose Other, then select each attribute you want to add.

    For example, to search copyright information, select Copyright in the list of attributes, then click OK.

  6. Add or remove search criteria as needed by clicking Add  or Remove .

To appear in the search results, an item must match all your criteria. For example, if one criterion specifies searching for items whose name begins with S and you add a criterion to search for items created today, the search results include only items created today whose names begin with S.

Perform a Boolean query

A Boolean query uses AND, OR, and NOT (known as Boolean operators) to narrow search results. You can also use a minus sign (–), which means AND NOT, to exclude items when you search.

Here are examples of what you might type in the search field when you use Boolean operators:

  • author:tom OR author:thom searches for items authored by Tom or Thom, if you don’t know the exact spelling of his name.

  • trip -france searches for items that contain the word “trip” but not “france,” so results might include photos from a trip to Spain but not to France.

  • kind:message date:6/29/14-7/25/14 NOT date:7/14/14 searches for email messages dated from 6/29/14 through 7/25/14, but excludes those dated 7/14/14.

Search for metadata attributes

Most items contain metadata that describes the item contents, how it was created, and other attributes. For example, when you take a digital photo, information such as the camera model, the aperture, and the focal length are among the many attributes automatically stored in the file as metadata. To view metadata for a file, select the file, then choose File > Get Info.

Here are examples of how you might use metadata attributes in your search:

  • trip kind:document searches for the word “trip” in documents only.

  • author:tom searches for all items written by Tom.

  • meeting date:tomorrow searches for meetings you have planned for tomorrow.

  • kind:images created:5/16/14 searches for images created on a specific date.

  • kind:music by:“glenn miller” searches for music by Glenn Miller.

  • modified:<=6/29/14 searches for items modified on or before a specific date.

You can also search for specific types of items, such as apps, contacts, or bookmarks. For more information, see Find specific types of items when searching.

Published Date: Sep 15, 2017