Customizing Spotlight Search Settings with El Capitan

By February 26, 2016Uncategorized

Appearing for the first time for OS 10.4 (Tiger) in 2005, Spotlight search has easily become one of Mac users’ most convenient tools. Although it is already such a great tool, some users don’t know that there are more features that first meet the eye. With El Capitan’s release last year, even more convenient features were added too.

To start, here are a few keyboard shortcuts to make your usage of Spotlight even easier:

Command+Spacebar opens Spotlight.

Command+L goes straight to the dictionary result.

Command+B opens a search for the term you’ve entered in your default browser and default search engine.

Command+Backspace clears the text in the Spotlight search bar.

ME - Customizing Spotlight

Search Results Pane

To open settings for Searchlight, go to the Apple Menu> System Preferences> Searchlight. In the “Search Results” pane, you can add categories you’d like Searchlight to search or deselect ones you’re not interested in.

The default setting on Spotlight includes suggestions from Bing which is based on the queries you enter in. If you wish for those to go away or just don’t like your information sent to Apple, you can deselect “Allow Spotlight Suggestions in Spotlight and Look Up” and “Bing Web Searches” to turn that setting off. This will keep searches exclusively on your Mac and dictionary.

As an extra privacy note, location services for Spotlight are also in Mac Menu> System Preferences> Security & Privacy preferences. This will stop sending your location to Apple when you search through Spotlight.

Privacy Pane

The settings from the privacy pane are best for those of us using a shared Mac or those who like to travel with our computers a lot. This lets you keep certain folders private from search, so even if someone DOES get ahold of your lapto, they won’t be able to use search to find anything you note here.
You can click the “Add” button (the + sign) to browse and add files or folders you’d wish to keep private from search. You can also drag and drop items here to add them more quickly. If you want to remove anything you’ve added, click on the item you want removed and then click the “remove” (-) button.

ME - Customizing Spotlight

Special Features for Search

In addition to finding any document in your computer by date in files listed, you can also search documents in time by typing in more casual language. For example, you can search the terms, “photos I edited yesterday” or “document I viewed last Tuesday.” These search commands will prompt similar items and can more quickly bring up exactly what you’re looking for.

In addition to searching documents of your own using Spotlight, you can also search for the weather, stock results, sports, and popular web videos! Just type in the keywords into Spotlight and web results for your requests will pop up right there for you. Feel free to also use natural language for those search inquiries as well!

Still using an older OS X and considering El Capitan? Read our blog about the best new features in El Capitan here. Have any questions for us regarding your Mac computer? Come to our store, call us at (800)448-1892, or contact us online here.


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