macOS Sierra: Narrow your searches in Spotlight and Finder

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 display the Finder search bar.

    • 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 for 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. 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.

Tip: You can save a search to use again. Just click Save below the search field. Your search is saved as a Smart Folder. To be able to quickly access your search in the Finder sidebar, make sure Add To Sidebar is selected. For more information, see Create or modify a Smart Folder.

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

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

  • modified:<=6/29/16 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.”

Search using AND, OR, and NOT

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:6/29/16-7/25/16 NOT date:7/14/16 searches for email messages dated from 6/29/16 through 7/25/16, but excludes those dated 7/14/16.

Published Date: Mar 28, 2017
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