Search with Spotlight

Spotlight can find apps, documents, photos, and other files on your Mac, and use Spotlight Suggestions to get news, sports, movies, stocks, weather, and more from the web using sources like Wikipedia, Bing, Maps, and iTunes. Spotlight can even get conversions, calculations, and definitions for you.

Spotlight menu showing search example and a video result you can play

Tip: You can drag the Spotlight window anywhere on the desktop and make it bigger.

Open Spotlight and search

  • Open Spotlight: Click the Spotlight icon in the upper-right corner of the menu bar, or press Command-Space bar.

    If it’s your first time using Spotlight, a description is shown in the Spotlight window. Just start typing in the search field where it says Spotlight Search.

  • Enter a search phrase: Start typing what you want to find—results appear as you type; you don’t need to press Return.

    • You can find files on your Mac by typing what you’re looking for the same way you’d say it. Here are some examples of natural language search phrases:

      • new york photos

      • emails from emily

      • salesreportQ1

      • presentation I worked on yesterday that contains budget

    • You can find things on the web and in the iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or App Store. For example, you can get results for weather, sports, stocks, or transit information. Or search for music, movies, books, apps, nearby stores and landmarks, and more.

  • Open an app: Type the name of the app, such as Preview, then press Return.

Spotlight learns from your searches, so if you enter “s” and open Safari, the next time you enter “s,” Safari is the top result.

View and use search results

  • Open an item: Select the item in the results list on the left, then press the Return key. Or double-click the item.

  • Use a preview: Click items or links in the preview on the right. For example, to hear a song in your iTunes playlist, click the Play button next to the song. Or to purchase tickets for a movie playing near you, click the movie times.

  • Show the location of a file on your Mac: Select the file in the results list, then hold down the Command key to show the file’s location at the bottom of the preview.

  • Copy an item: Drag a file from the results list to the desktop or a Finder window.

  • See files recently used in an app: Enter the app’s name (don’t press the Return key unless you want to open the app). To open a file, double-click it in the preview.

  • Make a desktop shortcut to an item: Drag the item from the results list to the desktop; just click it on the desktop to open the item in the appropriate app, such as Safari.

  • See all results from your Mac in the Finder: Scroll to the bottom of the results list, then double-click Show all in Finder. You can narrow the results in Finder.

Get conversions, calculations, and definitions

  • Convert currencies: Enter an amount to see the equivalent in other common currencies. For example, enter $100, £100, or ¥100. Or enter something like “300 sek in dollars.”

  • Convert temperatures: Enter a temperature like 98.8F or 32C. Or enter something like “340K in F.”

  • Convert measurements: Enter a measurement like 25 lb, 54 yards, or 23 stone. Or enter something like “32ft to meters.”

  • Get a calculation: Enter a mathematical expression, such as 956*23.94.

  • Get a definition: Enter a word or phrase, then click the result below Definition.

You can set options to exclude specific folders, disks, or types of information (such as email or messages) from Spotlight searches. If you want Spotlight to search content only on your Mac and not include results from the web, you can turn off Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches. For more information, see Spotlight preferences.

Not all features of Spotlight Suggestions may be available in all languages or regions and some features of Spotlight Suggestions may vary by region.