How to Use Spotlight on Mac

Joel Mason

Mac, Tutorials

Spotlight is a powerful search tool that comes built-in with your Mac. It allows you to quickly find files, launch applications, search the web, and even perform calculations. In this tutorial, we will explore how to use Spotlight effectively on your Mac.

Accessing Spotlight

To access Spotlight, simply click on the magnifying glass icon located in the top-right corner of your screen or press Command + Spacebar. This will open up the Spotlight search bar.

Searching for Files and Applications

Spotlight makes it easy to find files and applications on your Mac. Simply start typing the name of the file or application you are looking for in the Spotlight search bar. As you type, Spotlight will display relevant results in real-time.

– Use keywords to narrow down your search. For example, if you are looking for a specific document, type in its title or a keyword related to its content.
– To open an application directly from the Spotlight search results, press Enter after selecting it.

Searching the Web with Spotlight

Spotlight can also be used as a quick web search tool. To perform a web search, simply type your query into the Spotlight search bar and hit Enter. This will launch Safari with your search results displayed.

– Use quotes around your query to perform an exact phrase match.
– To quickly look up definitions of words or phrases, prefix them with “define” (e.g., define serendipity).

Performing Calculations with Spotlight

Need a quick calculation? You can use Spotlight as a calculator too!

Simply enter your mathematical expression into the spotlight search bar and hit Enter. The result will be displayed instantly.

– Use parentheses to group parts of your expression.
– Spotlight can handle basic arithmetic operations, as well as more complex functions like square root and trigonometry.

Customizing Spotlight

You can customize the behavior of Spotlight to suit your needs. To access Spotlight preferences, go to System Preferences > Spotlight.

– In the Privacy tab, you can exclude specific folders or disks from being indexed by Spotlight.
– You can change the keyboard shortcut for accessing Spotlight in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab.


Spotlight is a versatile tool that can greatly enhance your productivity on a Mac. By utilizing its powerful search capabilities and customizing its settings, you can quickly access files, launch applications, search the web, and perform calculations with ease. Experiment with these features to make the most out of Spotlight!

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