I think the majority of mac users would say that spotlight is a really nice tool. But most of them don’t even know what cool tricks Spotlight can even do. In my opinion, Spotlight is one of the best productivity tools that comes for free (well, you have to buy Mac OS anyway).
Windows users can only dream of it. You would need to buy a lot of software to cover the same functionality. And performance I don’t even want to mention here.
So, what can we actually do with Spotlight?
1. Normal Search
Searching for some documents is pretty simple. Just hit cmd+Spacebar (Spotlight will open in the top right corner of you screen) and start typing the phrase. Let’s say we are looking for: script. And voila, we get a list of everything containing script.
2. Boolean Search
Now that we’ve got a nice list, we want to refine it a little bit. We don’t want to get results that contain editor. Spotlight comes with boolean search functionality. It works with the following operators: AND, OR, NOT. Now the important part here is to type these operators all in capital letters, otherwise they will be understood as search terms.
3. Type Search
When you are looking for a specific type of document, let’s say an image, you can use the kind command followed by a colon and the file type. In this case the command would be script kind:image.
Make sure that you don’t have any space before and after the colon. There is a list of types you can use with this command:
||kind:application, kind:applications, kind:app
||kind:email, kind:emails, kind:mail message
||kind:folder, kind:folders, kind:fol
|iCal To-Do Items
||kind:todo, kind:todos, kind:to do
There is a nice calculator in the Dashboard but you could use the space for another nice widget. Spotlight can to all basic calculations as well. It also can handle brackets withing the formulas. Furthermore it is capable to handle a few more advanced calculations too, like square root, power, PI, …
As you can see spotlight is more advanced than the regular Dashboard calculator.
5. Application Launcher
That’s my absolute favorite one. The Dock has a limited space to place icons. Of course you can extend it with a stack and put there even more icons but it’s so much simpler with Spotlight. Just start typing fire to show Firefox in the list. Just think about how many clicks it can take you sometimes to launch a specific application.
Another nice feature of spotlight is that it can show you the definition of a word you type. Just hover the definition row in the result set and it will show you the definition of that word in a tooltip. Really nice.
7. Show in Finder
If you don’t want to open a document within Spotlight but show it in a Finder window you just press cmd and hold it while clicking the found document.
Spotlight is a powerful tool to speed up your work. It is included in every open/save file dialog box and helps you finding lost files in TimeMachine.