Ever since OS X Tiger, the Spotlight function has been a handy way to search your Mac's hard drive for files and documents. Now, with the introduction of OS X Yosemite Apple …has enhanced Spotlight with the ability to do so much more. Using Spotlight, you can search for documents, files, websites, even Wikipedia articles.
While Spotlight has always been accessible by using your mouse to click the magnifying glass found in the upper right hand corner of your Mac's desktop, Spotlight is no longer restricted to that spot on your screen. With the advent of OS X Yosemite, Apple allows Spotlight to run free a bit.
Now, Spotlight can be made to appear in the middle of your desktop, popping-up over whatever else you have displayed there. If you click the spotlight icon in the upper right hand corner of your screen, Spotlight will happily pop up in the middle of your screen. But now, you can also hit the Command + Spacebar key combination, and Spotlight will appear in the middle of your desktop, in a large, easy to read box.
Begin typing your search term in the Spotlight window. As you type, Spotlight will intelligently attempt to guess what you're looking for, as the window expands with a number of search results from different sources.
As you type, Spotlight accesses a large roster of sources for search results, such as:
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.
The list of results will appear below the entry field, in a pane on the left hand side of the window. In the right side of the window, you'll see a preview pane, where you can preview whichever result you click in the left-hand pane of the window.
If you find the file, website, movie, or anything else you're looking for, simply double-click on the result, and the result will open in the proper application.
If you'd like to narrow down the types of information Spotlight searches for, it is quite simple to narrow down its results. Simply go into "System Preferences" and click the "Spotlight" icon.
In the Spotlight menu, you'll be able to select or deselect the categories Spotlight will return search results in. You can also arrange the order of the display of the results by clicking and holding on a category and dragging it up or down in the list.
While you're here, you can also set the keyboard shortcut to use to activate Spotlight.
Click the Privacy tab to set which folders or disks you'd like to exclude from a Spotlight search. You can simply drag the folder or disk into the list, and it will be excluded from any further Spotlight searches.
While Spotlight is a great, full-featured search tool, you can also use it in other ways.
Spotlight will do math problems for you. Enter "3X6" in the search field, and Spotlight will give you the answer "18." Enter "12/6" and Spotlight will happily tell you the answer is 2.
If you need a word definition, simply enter a word or phrase, then click the result below for the definition.
Spotlight also does temperature conversions. Want to know what the Celsius equivalent is of 83 degrees Fahrenheit? Enter "83F" into the Spotlight search field, and Spotlight will return an answer of 28.33 Celsius. It'll even include a cute little temperature icon to remind you that it's answering with a temperature conversion.
By using the simple steps laid out in this article you can access a powerful tool to aid you in finding files, websites, songs, movies, and even word definitions with just a few keystrokes. Give Spotlight a try, you'll enjoy your Mac's newfound abilities.