How do I use Spotlight on my Mac? Use it to find apps, files, definitions, and more!

If you use your Mac every day for work and your personal life, chances are you have a lot of files, photos, folders, documents, and other data all over your Mac. It can make finding one specific file a pain in the butt. Luckily, Spotlight lets you search your Mac for pretty much anything, making it easy to find whatever you need. Here's how to use Spotlight on Mac.

What Spotlight can help you find

Spotlight helps you find pretty much anything on your Mac. It indexes the contents of your Mac's hard drive to make it easier to find documents, emails, apps, music, contacts, and other information. It can also help you find information on the web, perform equations, and now in High Sierra, it can even find your flight information.

How to access and use Spotlight in macOS

  1. Click on the Spotlight button in the menu bar, it looks like a magnifying glass. Or, use the Command - Space keyboard shortcut. The Spotlight search field will appear in the middle of your screen.
  2. Type in your search query. Spotlight will return results as you type.

If Spotlight isn't finding what you're looking for, you can adjust its search results to be optimized for what you need. You can also exclude specific locations of your hard disk to prevent Spotlight from searching information you'd prefer to keep private.

How to customize Spotlight search results

  1. Click on the  menu button on the top left of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click on Spotlight.

  4. Click the Checkbox beside the category to change what Spotlight will show you. If it has a checkmark, then those results will be displayed; if it doesn't, then those results will not be displayed.

How to hide content from Spotlight search

If you have sensitive documents in a certain location that you never want to be searched, you can tell Spotlight to not look in those locations.

  1. Click on the  menu button on the top left of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click on Spotlight.

  4. Click on the Privacy tab.

  5. Click on the add button. It's the + sign at the bottom left of the window.

  1. Click the item you don't want Spotlight to search for.
  2. Click Choose.

Questions?

Need anymore help with Spotlight? Let us know in the comments below.

Updated August 2017: Updated for macOS High Sierra.