Spotlight is one of the easiest ways to launch files, folders, apps, and more on your Mac. You can bring it up with a keyboard shortcut (Cmd + Space) or by clicking on the magnifying glass icon in the menu bar.
This native macOS feature also comes in handy when you want to look up definitions of words, get sports scores, track flights, do basic math, and retrieve all kinds of information in a snap. And thanks to natural language support, using Spotlight feels intuitive and effortless.
If you’re eager to discover the best tricks Spotlight is capable of, our cheat sheet below can help.
The cheat sheet includes keyboard shortcuts that work in Spotlight and special attributes you can use to filter data faster. You’ll also discover how to use Boolean operators, natural language, and various in-built Spotlight tools to access just the data you need in a few keystrokes.
FREE DOWNLOAD: This cheat sheet is available as a downloadable PDF from our distribution partner, TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access it for the first time only. Download The Spotlight Search Tips Cheat Sheet for Mac.
The Spotlight Search Tips Cheat Sheet for Mac
|Cmd + Space||Open Spotlight|
|¹keyword(s)||Display results for search term with first result highlighted and its preview in right-hand pane|
|“keywords” or “phrase”||Display exact matches|
|²“as”||Display App Store as top result|
|²“pc”||Display Parental Controls as top result|
|Return (Enter)||Open selected item|
|Double-click result||Open selected item|
|Down Arrow||Select result below|
|Up Arrow||Select result above|
|³Tab||Select first item in preview pane|
|⁴Cmd||Display Finder location of selected result at bottom of preview pane|
|Right Arrow||Autocomplete search keyword using the suggested/selected result|
|Cmd + Down Arrow||Jump to first result in next category|
|Cmd + Up Arrow||Jump to first result in previous category|
|Cmd + L||Jump to definition in results|
|Cmd + R||Open result in Finder or relevant app if applicable|
|Cmd + Return (Enter)||Open result in Finder or relevant app if applicable|
|Cmd + I||Open Get Info pane for result|
|Cmd + B||Look up search term using default search engine in default browser|
|Cmd + C||Copy item|
|Drag result to Finder window or desktop||Copy item|
|Double-click Show all in Finder in results list||View all results in Finder|
|Hover over preview for audio/video result||Reveal Play button to play result in preview|
|Two-finger scroll over preview||Reveal scroll bar|
|Drag search box||Move Spotlight to reposition it|
|Esc||Clear search box|
|Cmd + Delete||Clear search box|
|Option + Cmd + Space||Open Finder search window with search box selected|
|⁵Search Using Metadata Attributes|
|from:Name||Created or sent by Name|
|by:Name||Created or sent by Name|
|author:Name||Created by Name|
|to:Name||Addressed to Name|
|title:Title_Name||With title Title_Name|
|tag:TagName||With tag Tag_Name|
|created:DD/MM/YY||Created on DD/MM/YY|
|modified:DD/MM/YY||Modified on DD/MM/YY|
|⁶comment:keyword||Comment contains keyword|
kind: mail message(s)
|kind:image(s), kind:jpeg, kind:png||Images|
|⁸Search Using Boolean Operators|
|keyword 1 AND keyword 2||Results with keyword 1 and keyword 2|
|keyword 1 OR keyword 2||Results with keyword 1 or keyword 2|
|keyword 1 NOT keyword 2||Results with keyword 1 but not keyword 2|
|keyword 1 -keyword 2||Results with keyword 1 but not keyword 2|
|⁹Find local businesses||coffee|
|places to eat|
|Get time zone information||“time in Sydney”|
|Get weather information||“weather” for local weather “weather in Mumbai”|
|Look up definitions||keyword|
|Convert temperatures||“302kelvins in f”|
|Convert measurements||“52 pounds to kilograms”|
|Convert currencies||“600gbp in usd”|
|Get math calculations||“234/5*6”|
|Get real-time sports scores||“cricket scores” “lakers game”|
|Get stock prices||“sbux” for SBUX or Starbucks Corporation|
|See what’s playing at local theaters||showtimes or movie times|
|Get movie details and showtimes||“men in black”|
|Track flights||“WN3536” or “southwest 3536”|
|¹⁰Play songs without opening iTunes||“waka waka”|
|Search Using Natural Language|
|emails i received today|
|photos from yesterday|
|files from this week|
|messages from last week|
|screenshots i took last month|
|last year photos|
|pictures i took in june|
|documents i created in 2019|
|“spreadsheets from tim”|
|“presentations from ben”|
|¹Keyword(s) can be in title of Finder item or within content.
²Speed up search for apps and System Preferences panes by typing in their initials. Works with third-party apps also.
³Works with folders only. Preview pane items can be enclosed files or subfolders.
⁴Works with local results only.
⁵Can be used with or without keywords.
⁶Searches for Finder items with keyword in Comments section of Get Info pane.
⁷Without this filter, searching for an app name also reveals files recently used in app and matching apps in Mac App Store.
⁸Can be used with metadata attributes.
Eg: kind:document date:25/08/19-31/08/19 NOT 28/08/19
⁹Look under Maps category for relevant results. Does not work with all emojis.
¹⁰Hover over relevant track in preview to reveal Play button.
1. Feature availability might vary based on country.
2. Visit System Preferences > Spotlight to toggle visibility of Spotlight categories.