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If you've had your Mac for a while, you have a lot of files on it, and even if you have a new Mac, it won't be long before you've packed it with documents. As you put more files on your Mac, regardless of how organized you are, you'll find it increasingly more difficult to locate your files by opening folders and looking around. Fortunately, Mountain Lion has a couple of features that help you search for your files, and the first is called Spotlight. This is how it works. In the top right corner of the Menu bar, you will find the Spotlight menu. So you can click on that and then enter a search query.
The other option, and this is one that you ought to keep in mind, is to press Command+spacebar, and that brings up the Spotlight search field. Quick searches are easy. Just enter what you're looking for. So we'll put my name in there. And here is a list of results. This will include not only files that have these words in the title, but also within the contents of the file. Speaking of contents, you can view a preview of many kinds of documents. So in this case, let me highlight this Gatekeeper PDF file, and here is a preview to the left showing me what's in the file.
So this is an easy way to find the file you're looking for, particularly if you have files that have similar names. You can preview not only text and PDF files, but also play audio and movies. Now, let's move down to the bottom of the list and choose Search for. This pops up a Google search which shows my name, and there I am. So we'll quit Safari. Now let's take a look at Wikipedia. This opens the Dictionary application and chooses the Wikipedia tab, and here is my Wikipedia entry.
No, I'm not the Canadian ice hockey player, but this is my entry on Wikipedia. We'll quit Dictionary. There are also ways to narrow your search, and one of them is to put the thing you're looking for in quotes. So I'll put quote and end quote. This will show you any files that have this exact phrase within them, and it turns out there's just one and that's my test file. There's a preview of it. Sure enough, this is my file, is part of that text file. You can also narrow searches by keyword.
So in this case I put name:chris. So this includes any files that include Chris in their title. I can also search by date. So, that would be date:today, and these are items that have been modified today. I can search by kind. We'll say kind:PDF, and here are my PDF files. The way you format this is very important. So it must be "keyword:" and then whatever you're looking for. So no spaces in between any of these items.
You can also combine searches using multiple terms. So we'll say name:breen, kind:PDF, and that will show you just PDF files that include Breen in their name. As I demonstrated in an earlier movie, you can launch applications using Spotlight, so just type in their name. I'll type in iTunes, press return, and iTunes launches.
Spotlight can also perform mathematical calculations. So, just type in a formula. So we'll type in (4*32)*(9+45) and there you see the calculator entry, and that gives me the result of my calculation. Suppose you need to know the definition of a word, you can do that as well. I'll type in "numbles" which is a great word for Scrabble, by the way, but a lot of people don't know what it is.
You see the Look Up entry, select that, click on it, and you find the definition. Or you can preview that as well just by selecting it, and there's your definition. Now let's enter my name again. Now suppose you have a lot of results, and they don't all appear in this list, because let's face it, if you have a thousand results, they're not going to fit in this one list. So instead, choose Show All in Finder. A Searching This Mac window appears, and here you find all the results that match your query.
As you can see, there are lots and lots and lots of them. We'll look at finding items in the Finder in another movie. We'll close this window. Now, you can limit what Spotlight searches for, and to do that, you want to go into Spotlight's system preferences, and you can choose the kinds of things that will be searched. So for example, if you don't want messages and chats to be searched, you uncheck that option. Not webpages, okay, no PDF files, fine, just uncheck those items that you don't want searched.
You can also prevent certain areas from being searched. To do that, click on Privacy. Let's grab something in my User Account. Let's say I'd prefer not to have my Pictures folders searched. All I have to do is drag it into the privacy area and Spotlight searches will avoid looking in pictures. So this a good thing to know if somebody shares your Mac and you don't want them easily finding stuff that you've put on your Mac. If you want to undo this sort of thing, just select the item and click on the minus button.
Finally, you can change the Spotlight Menu shortcuts. By default again, they're Command+space, and if you want to show a Spotlight window which is the Command+F window that appears, that would be Command+Option+space. Click on one of these pop-up menus and you can choose a different key. Of course there's no substitute for organizing your files and applications so you have a good idea of where they can be found. But for those times when you can't find them or would rather not bother digging through folders, there's Spotlight.
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