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Spotlight Search Shortcut: How to Use Spolight Search on Mac

Updated on Wednesday, May 18, 2022

iBoysoft author Connie Yang

Written by

Connie Yang
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

What Is Spotlight Search on Mac & How to Open and Use It

Summary: This post contains everything about Spotlight Search on Mac. From there, you'll learn what is Spotlight on Mac, how to use it to get search results quickly, and how to customize the Spotlight preferences for the best results.

Spotlight Search on Mac

Spotlight Search is one of the useful tools on Mac, which helps you easy to find the target file, folder, app, or other items on your Mac. Please read this article to learn how to open Mac Spotlight with shortcuts and use Spotlight Search to find your desired files.

Table of Contents:

What is Spotlight on Mac?

Spotlight is a search utility on Mac. It indexes all the content on your Mac hard drive, allowing you to directly access your desired documents, folders, photos, apps, etc. by searching for the specific words contained in the target item. 

With Spotlight Search, you can access any information on your Mac quickly and easily. It greatly shortens your time for getting what you want from the Mac scuttered with files and programs.

How to open and use Spotlight Search on Mac?

To access Spotlight and do a Spotlight search on Mac with a shortcut, you can follow these steps:

  • Click the Spotlight icon at the upper right corner of your Mac screen to open the Spotlight Search bar. Alternatively, you can press the Mac Spotlight shortcut - Command + Space.  
    access and use Spotlight on Mac
  • Enter your search query into the search box. The search results show up as you type.
  • Click the search results for a preview.
  • Double-click your target item from the search results to directly open it.

How to customize Spotlight search results?

Spotlight can only search for the categories of information that you've allowed in Spotlight preferences. If you fail to get your wanted item from the Spotlight search results, you can debug the Spotlight preferences to cater to your needs.

Here's how:

  • Select the Apple menu > System Preferences > Spotlight.
  • Move your cursor to the Search Results tab.
  • Tick the box beside the categories to ensure what Spotlight can show you. Only the selected categories of items will appear in the search results. It is suggested to check in all the categories under the Search Results tab.  
    change categories in Spotlight search results
  • Click the Privacy tab.
  • Check the folder or disk that you've added to the list before for preventing Spotlight from searching. If the item you need or often use is in the folder or disk listed here, choose the folder or disk and click the '-' icon at the bottom to remove it.

reset the Spotlight preventing locations

Mac Spotlight not working, what to do?

If Spotlight is not opening or can't navigate to your target item via double-clicking the search results, your Spotlight Search may have some problems.

Software bugs or incompatibility, system errors, or other issues are all the possible reasons that lead to a Spotlight crash.

To fix the Mac Spotlight not working issue, you can follow the solutions in this post: How to Fix Spotlight Search Not Working on Mac/MacBook?

FAQs about Spotlight Search Mac

A

The default Spotlight Search shortcut on a Mac is Command + Space.

A

By default, if you don't open Spotlight or finish a Spotlight search on Mac, it keeps closing and won't index your Mac content. It is meaningless to force quit it in Activity Monitor.

A

Spotlight locates at the right corner of your Apple menu bar. Simply speaking, if you see a search icon at the upper right corner of your screen, that is Spotlight.