How to Search on a Mac

Charlotte Daniels

Mac, Tutorials

Welcome to this tutorial on how to search on a Mac! Searching for files, applications, and information is an essential part of using any computer.

Luckily, Mac provides several powerful and efficient ways to search for whatever you need. In this article, we will explore some of these methods and learn how to make the most out of them.

Spotlight Search

Spotlight Search is a versatile and built-in feature on macOS that allows you to quickly find files, folders, applications, and even perform web searches. To access it, simply click on the magnifying glass icon located at the top right corner of your screen or press Command + Spacebar keyboard shortcut. A search bar will appear along with a drop-down menu showing suggested results.

Basic Searches

To perform a basic search using Spotlight:

  • Type in your search query in the spotlight search bar.
  • As you type, Spotlight will display results that match your query in real-time.
  • Select the desired item from the results by clicking on it or pressing Enter.

Advanced Searches

If you want to refine your search results further, you can use some advanced queries:

  • “filetype:extension”: Search for specific file types. For example, searching for “filetype:pdf” will display all PDF files matching your query.
  • “kind:type”: Filter results by file kind.

    For instance, “kind:application” will show only applications matching your query.

  • “date:last week”: Find files modified within a specific date range. Replace “last week” with other options like “today“, “last month“, or specify a custom date.
  • “name:query”: Search for files with a specific name. For example, “name:report” will display all files containing the word “report” in their name.

Finder Search

In addition to Spotlight, you can also perform searches directly within the Finder application. Here’s how:

  • Open a Finder window by clicking on the smiley face icon located in the dock.
  • In the top-right corner of the Finder window, you will find a search bar. Click on it to activate.
  • Type your search query in the search bar and press Enter.
  • The search results will appear below, showing all files and folders that match your query.

Refining Finder Searches

To refine your searches within Finder:

  • Click on the “+” button located at the top-right corner of the Finder window to add search criteria.
  • You can add multiple criteria such as file size, date modified, and more to narrow down your results.
  • Click on the “-” button to remove any criteria that you no longer need.

Siri Search

If you prefer using voice commands, Siri is here to help:

  • Click on the Siri icon located on the menu bar or use the defined keyboard shortcut (usually Command + Spacebar) to activate Siri.
  • Ask Siri to search for a specific file, folder, or application. For example, say “Find my vacation photos.”
  • Siri will display the search results based on your query.


Now that you know how to search on a Mac using Spotlight, Finder, and Siri, you can save time and easily find whatever you need. Whether it’s locating files or launching applications, these search methods will help you stay organized and efficient in your daily tasks. Start searching like a pro on your Mac today!

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