Spotlight Tips

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.

Spotlight menu showing search example and a video result you can play

Tip:   You can drag the Spotlight window anywhere on the desktop and make it bigger.

Open Spotlight and search

Open Spotlight: Click the Spotlight icon  in the upper-right corner of the menu bar, or press Command-Space bar.

If it’s your first time using Spotlight, a description is shown in the Spotlight window. Just start typing in the search field where it says Spotlight Search.

Enter a search phrase: Start typing what you want to find—results appear as you type; you don’t need to press Return.

  • You can find files on your Mac by typing what you’re looking for the same way you’d say it. Here are some examples of natural language search phrases:
    • new york photos
    • emails from emily
    • salesreportQ1
    • presentation I worked on yesterday that contains budget
  • You can find things on the web and in the iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or App Store. For example, you can get results for weather, sports, stocks, or transit information. Or search for music, movies, books, apps, nearby stores and landmarks, and more.

Open an app: Type the name of the app, such as Preview, 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.

View and use search results

Open an item: Select the item in the results list on the left, then press the Return key. Or double-click the item.

Use a preview: Click items or links in the preview on the right. For example, to hear a song in your iTunes playlist, click the Play button next to the song. Or to purchase tickets for a movie playing near you, click the movie times.

Show the location of a file on your Mac: Select the file in the results list, then hold down the Command key to show the file’s location at the bottom of the preview.

Copy an item: Drag a file from the results list to the desktop or a Finder window.

See files recently used in an app: Enter the app’s name (don’t press the Return key unless you want to open the app). To open a file, double-click it in the preview.

Make a desktop shortcut to an item: Drag the item from the results list to the desktop; just click it on the desktop to open the item in the appropriate app, such as Safari.

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

Get conversions, calculations, and definitions

Convert currencies: Enter an amount to see the equivalent in other common currencies. For example, enter $100, £100, or ¥100. Or enter something like “300 sek in dollars.”

Convert temperatures: Enter a temperature like 98.8F or 32C. Or enter something like “340K in F.”

Convert measurements: Enter a measurement like 25 lb, 54 yards, or 23 stone. Or enter something like “32ft to meters.”

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

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

You can set options to exclude specific folders, disks, or types of information (such as email or messages) from Spotlight searches. If you want Spotlight to search content only on your Mac and not include results from the web, you can turn off Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches. For more information, see Spotlight preferences.

Not all features of Spotlight Suggestions may be available in all languages or regions and some features of Spotlight Suggestions may vary by region.

Spotlight preferences

In Spotlight preferences, choose the categories that appear in Spotlight search results. If you want, you can also keep Spotlight from searching specific folders or disks.

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

Search Results pane

Choose which categories appear in Spotlight search results: Select the categories you want to include, deselect those you don’t.

By default, Spotlight results include Spotlight Suggestions, Bing Web Searches, conversions, documents, folders, music, and more.

Allow Spotlight Suggestions in Spotlight and Look Up: Show Spotlight Suggestions in results when you search in Spotlight and look up a word.

If you don’t want your Spotlight and Look Up search queries and Spotlight Suggestions usage data sent to Apple, you can turn off Spotlight Suggestions. Deselect the “Allow Spotlight Suggestions in Spotlight and Look Up” checkbox (which automatically removes Spotlight Suggestions from the list), then deselect the Bing Web Searches checkbox in the list. With the checkboxes turned off, Spotlight searches only the contents of your Mac, and Look Up searches only the dictionary on your Mac.

You can turn off Location Services for Spotlight Suggestions in Security & Privacy preferences. If you turn off Location Services on your Mac, your precise location will not be sent to Apple. For detailed instructions and information, see About Spotlight Suggestions.

Privacy pane

Keep Spotlight from searching locations: Click the Add button , then locate the folder or disk you want to exclude. You can also drag folders or disks into the list.

Remove a folder or disk from the exclusion list: Select the folder or disk, then click the Remove button .

If you add a Time Machine backup disk to the privacy list, you will 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 does exclude from searches any items you store on your backup disk that are not part of a Time Machine backup.

Important:   If you add certain files and folders to the privacy list you may not be notified when updates become available for some apps. If you add your entire internal disk to the privacy list, you won’t be notified about any updates.

Set Spotlight shortcuts

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Shortcuts.
  2. Select Spotlight on the left, then change the shortcuts.

    For more information about changing keyboard shortcuts, see Use global keyboard shortcuts.

Spotlight Suggestions

In addition to searching your Mac, Spotlight Suggestions shows suggestions from the Internet, iTunes, App Store, movie showtimes, locations nearby, and more in Spotlight and Look Up. To search, click the Spotlight icon  in the menu bar, then start typing in the field at the top of the Spotlight window, to the right of the Spotlight icon.

When you use Spotlight or Look Up, your search queries, the Spotlight Suggestions you select, and related usage data will be sent to Apple. Search results found on your Mac will not be sent. If you have Location Services on your Mac turned on, when you make a search query to Spotlight or use Look Up the location of your Mac at that time will be sent to Apple. Searches for common words and phrases will be forwarded from Apple to Microsoft’s Bing search engine. These searches are not stored by Microsoft. To provide you with more relevant music and video suggestions, if your Mac can access music or video subscription services, then information such as the names of the subscription services and types of subscriptions may be sent to Apple. Your account name, number and password will not be sent to Apple. Location, search queries, and usage information sent to Apple will only be used by Apple to make Spotlight Suggestions more relevant and to improve other Apple products and services.

If you do not want your Spotlight and Look Up search queries and Spotlight Suggestions usage data sent to Apple, you can turn off Spotlight Suggestions. Simply deselect the checkbox for “Allow Spotlight Suggestions in Spotlight and Look Up” and the checkbox for Bing Web Searches in the Search Results tab in the Spotlight preference pane found within System Preferences on your Mac. If you turn off Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches, Spotlight will only search the contents of your Mac and Look Up will only search the dictionary on your Mac.

You can turn off Location Services for Spotlight Suggestions in the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences on your Mac by clicking on the Privacy tab, selecting Location Services, selecting Details next to System Services, then deselecting Safari & Spotlight Suggestions. If you turn off Location Services on your Mac, your precise location will not be sent to Apple. To deliver relevant search suggestions, Apple may use the IP address of your Internet connection to approximate your location by matching it to a geographic region.

By using these features, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its subsidiaries’ and agents’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information as described above.

Information collected by Apple will be treated in accordance with Apple’s Privacy Policy, which can be found at www.apple.com/privacy.

Note:   Not all features of Spotlight Suggestions may be available in all languages or regions and some features of Spotlight Suggestions may vary by region.

 

Search & Find

Mac users who are searching for specific file type and file format matches on their computer can make the job dramatically easier by issuing proper search operators to the Find functions in OS X. File type search operators can be used directly in Spotlight and also in the Finder based search function, and they can be either very specific to a particular file format (for example, a JPEG), or more general to a file type (for example, a movie).

As a quick reminder, you can open Spotlight search by hitting the Command+Spacebar key combo from anywhere in OS X, and you can open a new Finder search with Command+F from anywhere in the Mac file system, desktop, or Finder.

Searching for a General File Type in OS X

If you know you want to find and match general file types, you can use generalized file operators in the search functions of OS X like so:

kind:(file type)

File type search operators can be things like ‘image’, ‘movie’, ‘music’, ’email’, ‘application’, ‘text’, ‘archive’, etc.

For example, if you want to find all images in a folder, or search for a file that you know is an image, you could use the following operator:

kind:image

If used in Spotlight (command+spacebar), the matches will be listed by most recent usage, but you can click on the “Show all in Finder” option to see all matches for the search type.

Search Spotlight for a file kind match in Mac OS X

If the kind:type operator is used in the Finder windows, it will default to searching the entire computer for matches of that type (in the prior example, all images, or in the below example, all music).

Searching for matches of general file types in Mac OS X

Searching for Specific File Format Matches in Mac OS X

Assuming you know a specific file format, you can use file format operators when searching on the Mac as well, like so:

kind:(file format)

File format search operators are quite literal, meaning you can specify something like ‘jpeg’, ‘gif’, ‘aiff’, ‘pdf’, ‘rtf’, ‘psd’, ‘mp3′, ‘zip’, or basically any other file format.

For example, to search for matches that are mp3 files, you would use:

kind:mp3

Search Mac file types and file formats for matches

Just like before, you can use these operators in either Spotlight, or with direct Finder searches.

Searching for File Names & Specific File Types / Formats

You can take the file type and file format searches further by using the search operator as a prefix to narrow down a name search as well. The usage of an operator in this scenario would be like so:

kind:(operator) "text to search match"

In this image example with Spotlight, we’re searching for ‘kind:pdf’ and the text match of “user_guide” with “kind:pdf ‘user_guide’”

Searching a file type and file name text match in Mac OS X

This works great if you know a general name and file type but can’t remember the file format or exact name (for example, if you know it’s an image file and had the text ‘iPhone’ in the file name, but can’t remember the exact file itself).

Search operators are very powerful and can make locating things on the Mac much easier, whether you start from the Spotlight search feature or a general Finder based file search.

 

Spotlight Tips

Spotlight_iconSearch with Spotlight

Spotlight helps you quickly find anything on your Mac, including documents, emails, apps, songs, contacts, and more. It also provides Spotlight Suggestions from sources like Wikipedia, Bing, Maps, news, and iTunes so you can get more information right in Spotlight. Search results have rich, interactive previews so you can play song previews, get directions, send email, make phone calls, and more from results.

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.

Search Tips

Spotlight starts finding files when you begin typing in the Spotlight search field. It will display applications, files, and folders whose names match your search criteria, as well as files that contain your criteria within them, such as in text documents, applications, emails, calendars, and more. For example, if you type “itunes”, Spotlight will locate the iTunes application, as well as folders, System Preferences, and web searches that contain the text “itunes” or media
files in them.
Click the Spotlight icon in the upper-right corner of your screen (or press Command-Space bar) and type what you’re looking for in the resulting field.The moment you start typing, Spotlight begins to show you what it has found, organizing your results by category (including Applications, Documents, Images, and PDF Documents). The more you type, the more refined your results will be.Tip: You can use the Spotlight pane of System Preferences to arrange the order of these categories and specify categories which will appear. Choose “Spotlight Preferences…” below the search results.If there are a lot of results, Spotlight won’t display everything in the menu or window. If you want to see everything, choose “Show All in Finder” to open a Finder window that shows all results.

To preview an item in the Spotlight results list, use the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys, a two-finger trackpad swipe, or move the pointer to scroll through the results. A preview appears for each item as it is highlighted. To open an item in the results list, just click it if you’re viewing the Spotlight menu, or double-click the item if you’re looking at results in the Finder.

You can also type your search criteria in the search field of any Finder, System Preferences, or application window that supports it. For example, you can type “.jpg” if you want to find all JPEG images on your Mac, or type a friend’s name and a couple keywords to locate a particular email from your friend about something.

When searching from within the Finder window, you can change where Spotlight searches by clicking This Mac to search everywhere on your Mac or your current folder location (the search example below shows Documents as the current folder location).

Also, you can click the Add (+) button located on the right side of the search window below the search field to narrow down search results. For example, choose Contents for your search to include the contents of the files, or choose Name to have your search apply only to the name of your files.

To make more choices available in the search criteria pop-up menu, choose Other and select the checkbox for each attribute you want to add or use the search field to quickly locate an attribute. For example, to be able to search copyright information, select the Copyright checkbox in the list of attributes and click OK. Add or remove search criteria as needed by clicking Add (+) or Delete (–).

Other things you can do with Spotlight

  • You can use Spotlight like a calculator–simply type a mathematical expression in the search field.

  • Look up definitions: Type a word or phrase in the search field, then click the “Look Up” (or “Definition” in Mac OS X v10.6 and earlier) result to see the definition in Dictionary.

Tip: If you hover the cursor over a Look Up result, a definition pops out to the left:

Advanced information

If you want to use Spotlight in Terminal scripts, use the mdfind command.

If you want to use Terminal to manage metadata stores used by Spotlight, use the mdutil command.

 

Essential Tips

There are some essential tips you need in order to get started with Apple’s Spotlight, a few tips and tricks that will definitely ease your learning. Here are a few of the most important.

Start from the Beginning

pictures of the Spotlight Menu showing no results and another showing results
Spotlight searches from the beginning of words not in the middle of words. With Spotlight you can’t type “enice” and expect to find anything about “Venice”.

So, the rule is start your search criteria from the beginning of the words you know—any words will work, and you definitely don’t need to type the entire word, just be sure to start from the beginning. Later you can learn to search anywhere in a name using a Smart Folder. For now, search from the beginning of words.

Let Go of That Death Grip On Filenames

picture of the Spotlight Menu showing some results
If you are used to searching your Mac you might be focused on just file names. You might be thinking “What was the name of that file?” or “What was the name of the folder I put it in?” Remember that Spotlight knows how to find using a lot more than file names.

Try typing the name of the person who sent you the file, or something you know about its text, or what kind of file it is or when you last opened it, what you were writing about or anything else you know about the file. File names and folder names are still a great way to search but they are no longer the only way to find things.

Start Thinking in Categories

picture of the the Categories panel of the Spotlight Preferences
The Spotlight Preferences list 14 categories of information. If you can’t remember anything about an item except that it’s a Keynote presentation you can still find it easily with Spotlight. And with Smart Folders you can access every category and type of document on your Mac precisely if you want.

Expand your Mind Beyond “Files”

picture of the Spotlight Menu showing some results
With Spotlight you can find a lot of things you don’t think of as “files”. For example you can find Contacts in Address book, Messages in Mail, To Do items in iCal and more, as well as documents and images. The trick is to type anything you know about anything you’re looking for.

A good place to start is:

  • press Command + Option then tap the Spacebar to open the Spotlight Window
  • type anything you know about whatever it is you are looking for

and take a good look at the results.

Forget About Searching and Start Thinking About Organizing

You can:

  • make a Smart Folder that shows you all your recently accessed items (you choose what recent means).
  • show all the files on your Mac with a particular Color Label and you can add and remove from the group just by assigning a Color Label in the Finder.
  • tag files with Spotlight comments and them make and save a Smart Folder that shows (i.e organizes) just them.
  • add keywords in iPhoto then use those keywords anywhere you find Spotlight.
  • use the Show Properties command in the File menu of Textedit, Keynote, Pages and other apps to set Author, Company, Copyright, Title, Subject, Keywords or Comments. Organize with the properties anywhere you have Spotlight.
  • use Smart mailboxes in Mail and Smart Groups in Address Book.
  • organize the web pages you are building with the keywords in your META Tags.

The list of how you can view your Mac goes on and on and on…

Realize that Everything Is Connected
and Start Using that Realization

Everything on your Mac is connected through Spotlight. Spotlight knows almost everything about your Mac and every application uses Spotlight. Soooo, you can use any Spotlight feature just about anytime, in any application.

For example, you know you can put keywords on photos in iPhoto. Did you know that thanks to Spotlight you can use those keywords everywhere on your Mac not just in iPhoto?

Try it:

  • type one of your iPhoto keywords in the Spotlight Window or Menu.
  • open Preview, go to the File -> Open dialog and type one of your keywords in the Spotlight search field there.
  • select one of your iPhoto keywords right in an email you are typing, hold down the Control key, click, then choose Search in Spotlight from the Shortcut Menu.

it’s kind of surprising to find out you can use your iPhoto keywords anywhere and anytime you want. Now start thinking: the Finder connected to iPhoto to iTunes ot Keynote to Pages to TextEdit to System Preferences to Address Book to Mail to iCal to your web pages to the Terminal, etc., etc., etc.

This is why you get so relaxed when you discover Spotlight—everything is always available and you stop worrying about where everything is—you just use Spotlight to show whatever you want, wherever and whenever you want.

Spotlight Keyboard Shortcuts

Quickly search with Spotlight using keyboard shortcuts.

Open Spotlight to start a search

Command (⌘)-Space bar

Complete the search using the suggested result

Right Arrow

Move to the next search result

Down Arrow

Move to the previous search result

Up Arrow

Move to the first search result in the next category

Command (⌘)-Down Arrow

Move to the first search result in the previous category

Command (⌘)-Up Arrow

Show the path of a search result on your Mac

Command (⌘)

Open the selected result

Return key

See a file or app in the Finder

Command (⌘)-R or Command (⌘)-Double-click

Open a Finder window with the search field selected

Option-Command (⌘)-Space bar

To choose different shortcuts, open Spotlight preferences—choose Apple menu > System preferences, click Spotlight, then choose shortcuts from the pop-up menus at the bottom of the pane. You can also click the pop-up menus, then press the keys you want to use.

If you use multiple input sources and have designated Command (⌘)-Space bar and Option-Command (⌘)-Space bar as shortcuts for switching between input sources, you should change the Spotlight shortcuts.

Find specific types of items when searching

If you’re looking for a specific type of item on your Mac, such as an email or image, you can specify it when performing a search. To specify the type, add the text “kind:[type of item]” at the end of your search. For example, to search for your images of New York City, enter “New York City kind:images.” To search for your email messages that mention Anne Johnson, enter “Anne Johnson kind:email.”

You can use these keywords in Spotlight, Finder, and Open dialog search fields.

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

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.

Spotlight Preferences

In Spotlight preferences, choose the categories that appear in Spotlight search results. If you want, you can also keep Spotlight from searching specific folders or disks.

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

Open Spotlight preferences for me

To set Spotlight preferences, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, 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.
Privacy To add a folder or disk to the list of locations to exclude from searches, click Add (+), 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, then click Remove (-).
Spotlight menu keyboard shortcutSpotlight window keyboard shortcut Select one or both of these options, 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 Mac, click the triangle.If you have an Apple Mouse, you can use Mouse preferences to assign a button to display the Spotlight menu.

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.

Important: If you add files and folders to the privacy list you may not be notified when updates become available for some of your apps. If you add your entire internal disk to the privacy list, you won’t be notified about any updates.

Search Results pane

Choose which categories appear in Spotlight search results: Select the categories you want to include, deselect those you don’t.

By default, Spotlight results include Spotlight Suggestions, Bing Web Searches, conversions, documents, folders, music, and more.

If you don’t want your Spotlight search queries and Spotlight Suggestions usage data sent to Apple, you can turn off Spotlight Suggestions by deselecting the Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches checkboxes. You can also turn off Location Services for Spotlight Suggestions in Security & Privacy preferences. If you turn off Location Services on your Mac, your precise location will not be sent to Apple. For detailed instructions and information, see About Spotlight Suggestions.

Change the order of results: Drag the categories until they’re in the order you want.

Privacy pane

Keep Spotlight from searching locations: Click Add , then locate the folder or disk you want to exclude. You can also drag folders or disks into the list.

Remove a folder or disk from the exclusion list: Select the folder or disk, then click Remove .

If you add a Time Machine backup disk to the privacy list, you will 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 does exclude from searches any items you store on your backup disk that are not part of a Time Machine backup.

Important:   If you add certain files and folders to the privacy list you may not be notified when updates become available for some apps. If you add your entire internal disk to the privacy list, you won’t be notified about any updates.

Show Spotlight search and Show Finder search window shortcuts

Show Spotlight search: Click the pop-up menu, then choose the keyboard shortcut you want to use to open Spotlight.

Show Finder search window: Click the pop-up menu, then choose the keyboard shortcut you want to use to open a Finder search window.

When you use the shortcut, a Finder window opens with the search field selected.

If a yellow alert triangle appears next to the shortcut you select, then the shortcut is already being used. Click the triangle to open Keyboard Shortcuts preferences and view all the keyboard shortcuts set on your Mac.