OS X Yosemite: Search with Spotlight

Spotlight can find apps, documents, photos, and other files on your Mac, and use Spotlight Suggestions to get news, sports, movies, stocks, weather, and more from the web using sources like Wikipedia, Bing, Maps, and iTunes. Spotlight can even get conversions, calculations, and definitions for you.

Note:   Spotlight Suggestions may not be available in all regions.
Spotlight menu showing search example
  1. Click the Spotlight icon in the menu bar, or Press Command (⌘)-Space bar.

  2. Enter your search. Results appear as you type; you don’t need to press Return.

    Here are some of the items you can search for:

    • Items on your Mac, such as documents, emails, apps, songs, movies, contacts, events, and reminders.

    • Items in the iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or App Store, such as songs, albums, movies, TV shows, books, and apps.

    • Locations near you, such as stores, restaurants, parks, and landmarks.

    • Wikipedia entries for people, places, and more.

    • Movies playing in theaters near you.

    • News for current events.

    Note:   If you turn off Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches, Spotlight searches only for items on your Mac.
  3. Click a search result to preview it in Spotlight. You can also use the arrow keys to scroll through the results.

    • Perform actions in result previews: Click items or links in the previews.

      For example, to preview a song from an album on iTunes, click the Play button next to the song. Or, to get tickets for a movie playing near you, click the movie times.

    • Open a result: Double-click the result, or select it, then press Return.

    • See all results from your Mac in the Finder: Scroll down to the bottom of the results list, then double-click Show all in Finder.

With Spotlight, you can also get unit and currency conversions, quickly open apps, and get calculations and definitions.

  • Get currency and unit conversions: Convert dollars to euros, feet to meters, pounds to kilograms, even hectares to acres. Enter the units or currency you want to convert, such as 100 dollars. The top result shows the conversions.

  • Open an app: Enter the app’s name in Spotlight, then press Return.

    Spotlight learns from your searches, so if you enter “s” and open Safari, the next time you enter “s,” Safari is the top result.

  • Get a calculation: Enter a mathematical expression in Spotlight, such as 956*23.94.

  • Get a definition: Enter a word or phrase, then click the result below Definition.

Note:   If you deselected categories in the Search Results pane of Spotlight preferences, you won’t see those results from those categories in Spotlight. If you used the Privacy pane of Spotlight preferences to exclude any folders or disks from searches, Spotlight results won’t include items in those folders and disks. For more information, see Spotlight preferences.
Published Date: Jul 5, 2016
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