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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 how organized you may be, you'll find it increasingly difficult to locate your files by opening folders and looking around. Fortunately, OS X Lion has a couple of features that would help you search for your files. The first is called Spotlight, and this is how it works. You have a couple of ways to open Spotlight. One is to click on the magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner.
Another way is to press Command+Space. Now Quick Searches are easy. All you have to do is type your query. So let's put in my name, and there you have it. Now you'll notice that some of these documents actually have my name in the title and others don't. These are documents that contain my name, but aren't titled with it. You'll also notice that when I highlight things, they eventually show you the content. You get a little preview of what that document is. This is incredibly helpful if you've got like 200 documents, for example, that use a particular search term. You can use this and then see a preview of the documents, so then you can later open it.
And preview works in such a way that you can see not only text, but can you also see images, you can play audio, and also movies. If you move down to the bottom of the list, you see a couple of other searches. One is you can search the web for whatever it was you were looking for. So for example, let's look on the web for me. I click that, Safari launches, and it shows you a Google page that has my name on it. close that, go back to Spotlight and let's check Wikipedia to see if I am in there. Now the Dictionary app opens, and I'm searching Wikipedia, and sure enough, look, there I am in Wikipedia. And we'll quit out of that.
You can also put searches in quotes so that you end up searching for the exact phrase. So we will do my name in quotes. You put your phrase in quotes and then only the documents that contain that phrase appear in your list of results. You could also narrow your search by defining exactly what you're looking for, and you do it this way. name:Breen, for example.
So what you'll find are any documents that contain the name Breen within the name of the file. If I want to narrow that further, I can add another search term. So for example, kind:e-mail. Now I see only those e-mail messages that contain Breen. Spotlight can perform other tricks. For example, it can do calculations for you. So in case you didn't know, 2+2=4, and here is the result here. Of course, you can do more complicated calculations, but that gives you the idea.
Enter a calculation there and the results will appear in Spotlight. It can also act as a dictionary. This is a great word to use in Scrabble. Numbles. When you type-in a word that is in the dictionary, it will show across from a Look Up entry. So I can highlight that, and out pops the definition. Just in case you didn't know, it's the entrails of an animal, especially a deer used for food. It sounds disgusting, but again, in Scrabble, it's a terrific word to use. If you have a lot of results, you may not be able to see them all in this list, because it's a limited list.
What you can do though is choose Show All in Finder. When you do that, all your results appear in the Finder window. We are going to look at finding items in the Finder in another movie. So we will close that window. You can also limit what Spotlight searches and you do that within System Preferences. So here's the Spotlight entry. So you can choose exactly the kinds of items that you want to search. So for example, I want to search for documents, but I don't want to look in System Preferences or Applications or in Contacts or Images for example.
So again, configure this the way it makes sense for you. Let's shift the window up. You will also see that you can change the Spotlight menu keyboard shortcut. By default, it's Command+Space and if you want to show that Spotlight window that appeared in the Finder, you can choose Option+Command+Space, but you can change that. There's also a Privacy tab. Select Privacy and click the Plus button or you can drag folders in, and you can choose to Exclude items that you don't want to have searched.
So let's say for example I have some super-secret financial data and I don't want anybody to just to be able to sit down on my computer and pull up my tax documents. So I will go to my Documents folder and there are my Tax Documents. So I am going to exclude that from search. I click Choose and now when I conduct a Spotlight search, or more importantly somebody else does, they won't be able to see results from that folder. 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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