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Finding files with Spotlight

From: Mac OS X Lion Essential Training

Video: Finding files with Spotlight

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.

Finding files with Spotlight

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Mac OS X Lion Essential Training
Mac OS X Lion Essential Training

72 video lessons · 30854 viewers

Christopher Breen
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 26s
    1. Welcome
      53s
    2. Using the exercise files
      33s
  2. 4m 42s
    1. Installing Lion
      4m 42s
  3. 44m 44s
    1. Touring the Finder
      10m 19s
    2. Launching and working with apps
      4m 22s
    3. Sorting and starting apps with Launchpad
      3m 13s
    4. Organizing workspaces with Mission Control
      4m 35s
    5. Using trackpad gestures
      8m 22s
    6. Using mouse gestures
      2m 22s
    7. Understanding file saving in Lion
      4m 35s
    8. Using Text to Speech
      3m 9s
    9. Installing software
      3m 47s
  4. 26m 51s
    1. Personalizing the interface
      7m 31s
    2. Staying current with Software Update
      4m 13s
    3. Configuring Mail, Address Book, and iCal
      5m 2s
    4. Setting up printers
      3m 39s
    5. Backing up with Time Machine
      6m 26s
  5. 10m 49s
    1. Finding files with Spotlight
      5m 16s
    2. Digging deeper with Finder searches
      5m 33s
  6. 39m 6s
    1. Configuring basic personal preferences
      11m 14s
    2. Optimizing Mission Control preferences
      3m 42s
    3. Configuring basic Audio and Video preferences
      4m 34s
    4. Adjusting Input Device preferences
      7m 45s
    5. Configuring Bluetooth input devices
      2m 36s
    6. Modifying Date & Time Preferences
      2m 38s
    7. Getting on the internet
      3m 56s
    8. Using an alternate startup disk
      2m 41s
  7. 3m 22s
    1. Understanding Dashboard widgets
      3m 22s
  8. 23m 20s
    1. Navigating the interface
      6m 30s
    2. Filtering junk mail and sorting messages with rules
      4m 22s
    3. Scheduling appointments with iCal
      6m 38s
    4. Organizing contacts with Address Book
      5m 50s
  9. 37m 5s
    1. Basic word processing in TextEdit
      7m 56s
    2. Using Dictionary
      2m 51s
    3. Preview: Working with images
      6m 20s
    4. Preview: Working with PDFs
      6m 13s
    5. Installing and managing fonts
      5m 37s
    6. Creating quick notes using Stickies
      3m 24s
    7. Using Calculator
      4m 44s
  10. 34m 27s
    1. Navigating the web
      4m 49s
    2. Working with bookmarks
      7m 15s
    3. Adding and reading RSS feeds
      2m 38s
    4. Using Reading List
      3m 7s
    5. Saving web pages and creating web clips
      1m 15s
    6. Using Safari to search the web
      3m 13s
    7. Opening local files in Safari
      2m 33s
    8. Working with Safari's preferences
      4m 33s
    9. Configuring privacy settings
      5m 4s
  11. 13m 45s
    1. Playing media
      9m 3s
    2. Recording
      4m 42s
  12. 18m 26s
    1. Video chatting in FaceTime
      5m 26s
    2. Text and video messaging in iChat
      9m 6s
    3. Shooting videos and pictures in Photo Booth
      3m 54s
  13. 12m 46s
    1. Automating complex tasks
      12m 46s
  14. 13m 55s
    1. Monitoring system performance
      3m 20s
    2. Setting up a Windows installation in Boot Camp
      3m 49s
    3. Formatting, partitioning, and repairing storage devices
      6m 46s
  15. 15m 55s
    1. Understanding sharing
      4m 59s
    2. Sharing files on a network
      3m 23s
    3. Screen sharing with a remote computer
      4m 7s
    4. Sending files with AirDrop
      3m 26s
  16. 38m 47s
    1. Modifying Language & Text settings
      6m 38s
    2. Optimizing Security & Privacy settings
      6m 24s
    3. Configuring access for for the disabled
      7m 23s
    4. Using Energy Saver
      4m 42s
    5. Adding and changing users
      6m 19s
    6. Configuring Parental Controls
      7m 21s
  17. 18m 33s
    1. Preventive measures: Creating a Lion boot drive
      7m 40s
    2. Understanding and configuring permissions
      3m 6s
    3. Troubleshooting techniques
      7m 47s
  18. 6m 11s
    1. Techniques for using the Mac efficiently
      5m 22s
    2. Next steps
      49s

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