OS X El Capitan: Narrow the scope of your searches

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Narrow the scope of your searches
Narrow your searches in Spotlight and Finder

When you search in Spotlight or in Finder and other windows that have a search field, you can use several methods to focus the scope of your searches and the search results.

Tip:   Want to exclude items from being included in Spotlight results? Set options in Spotlight preferences.

Add criteria to a search

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

  1. Start your search in Spotlight or a Finder window.

    • In Spotlight: Click the Spotlight icon in the menu bar, enter your search, then double-click Show All in Finder at the bottom of the search results list to open a Finder search window.

    • In Finder: Enter your search in the search field, then press Return.

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

  3. Click the far-left pop-up menu, then choose or add 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.

    To add criteria, 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.

    Finder window with fields to specify search criteria
  4. Choose criteria from other pop-up menus that appear.

    For example, after you choose Kind, click the other pop-up menu to specify Document or Image, for example. To add a kind, choose Other.

  5. Add or remove search criteria as needed by clicking the Add button  or the Remove button .

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.

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 a 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.

Search by the type of items

When you use Spotlight or search in Finder or other windows, you can use keywords to specify the type of items you’re searching for, such as apps, contacts, or bookmarks.

To specify the type of item, add the text “kind:[type of item]” at the end of your search. For example, to search for photos of New York City, enter “New York City kind:images.” To search for email messages that mention Anne Johnson, enter “Anne Johnson kind:email.”

Type of item
Keyword

Apps

kind:application

kind:applications

kind:app

Contacts

kind:contact

kind:contacts

Folders

kind:folder

kind:folders

Email

kind:email

kind:emails

kind:mail message

kind:mail messages

Calendar events

kind:event

kind:events

Reminders

kind:reminder

kind:reminders

Images

kind:image

kind:images

Movies

kind:movie

kind:movies

Music

kind:music

Audio

kind:audio

PDF

kind:pdf

kind:pdfs

Preferences

kind:system preferences

kind:preferences

Bookmarks

kind:bookmark

kind:bookmarks

Fonts

kind:font

kind:fonts

Presentations

kind:presentation

kind:presentations

There are several other keywords that you can use to find items, such as from, to, author, with, by, tag, title, name, keyword, and contains. To use a keyword, enter it followed by a colon, then enter your search term. For example, enter “author:Emily” or “title:New York City.”

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 a 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.

Published Date: Sep 16, 2017
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