MacCast Member #115 - Spotlight Revisited
V Spotlight
V Opening
* I often see or hear people complaining that Spotlight is "broken".
* I happen to be a big fan of Spotlight and I think on the whole it works fairly well.
* I also think that some of the "broken" things that people encounter can be fixed with a little more advanced knowledge of how Spotlight works and some of the tricks you can use to find things and make your result more relevant.
V Spotlight Menubar
V Typically clicking on a result opens that item, but what if you want to open the folder containing that items to see where it is in the Finder?
* Hit Command + Enter on the highlighted file in Spotlight to open it’s location in a new Finder window.
* Use Command+I on a highlighted item to get info on it right from Spotlight result
V In Lion you can drag item directly out of the results
* Drop directly onto an app in the dock to open in that app
* Drag out to make a copy of that file (notice the "+" icon)
* Hold Command+Option to create an Alias
V In Lion, you get the preview when you hover, but it has it's own tricks
* If you press and hold the Command key it will pop-up the Preview of the Top Hit
V Hold down the command key to get a scrolling list of additional info at the bottom of the preview window
* Path to file
* Matched metadata information
* Mailbox
* Press Command-Option to see the path instantly.
V Some file types can have interaction
* Contact field labels can be clicked (just like in Address Book) for additional info
V Spotlight Finder Window
V Accessed from the Finder, using Command+F or Option+Command+Space from anywhere
* You can change this setting in System Preferences > Spotlight
* Set the 'Spotlight Window Keyboard Shortcut'
V Top of the Window offer 3 search locations
* This Mac (default), the current folder or volume you initiated the search from, and I have the 'Shared' folder
V Click the small + button right next to “Save”, you can add additional search parameters.
* File kind: Here you can select the kind of file you are looking for. This allows you to, for example, specifically search for PDF files only
* Last opened date: This is the time the file was last opened/read
* Last modified date: This is the time the file was last written and therefore changed
* Created date: This is the time the file was initially created
* Name: This is the file name only
* Contents: These are the contents of the file itself, which is particularly helpful for text documents such as PDFs or Word files.
V Other…: a large list of other options
* You can scroll through the list or search
* The "In Menu" checkbox allows you to add you frequently used parameters to the main list
* Two very useful ones I think are 'System files' and 'File visibility'
* You can add additional search parameters by clicking the "+" button
* Hold the alt key, you will see that the + button turned into an ellipsis (…), then you can add boolean style parameters. Options are Any, All, or None of the conditions are met.
V General search query tips
* Typing words will search for ALL of those words by default.
* You can require exact matches to multiple words or a phrase by using enclosing quotes
* Boolean keyword operators are also supported AND, OR, NOT. Typed in upper case. You can use parenthesis to group them
* adding a "-" without a space in front of a term just like 'NOT;
V Going Meta
* Metadata keywords are the key to Spotlight searching power
* There are 125 and growing and learning some of these will help you a lot.
* The basic syntax is: AttributeType:attribute
V The attribute type can often be guessed by looking at the Get Info on a file and specifically the 'More Info' section.
* Pretty much any term you see listed there could be used as a AttributeType. Just type it all lowercase with no spaces followed by the ":"
* There is also a great PDF document at
V Some helpful metadata keywords
V kind:
* image, PDF, message or email, event, contact
V date:
* You can use terms like "today","yesterday","this week", or dates and date ranges (i.e. 2010-2011)
* name:
* contains:
* width:
* dpi:
* subject:
* from: or to:
V You can combine these to create some powerful results
* kind:contact name:[Persons Name]
* kind:jpeg width:600
* kind:email date:"this week" from:[email address]
V Super Nerdy Command Line Stuff
* Open up Terminal. Applications > Utilities > Terminal
V mdfind command to search
* Type 'mdfind 'search term' and hit enter
* If you need to exit the results before they finish hit Control+C
* Of course you can do all the command line goodies like piping results of searches, etc.
* There are several options of course, but a helpful one is '-onlyin [folder]' restricts the search to that specific folder.
* Can also add in 'kMDitem' metadata keyword name value pairs. Big list at—mdAtt.1.html
V Rebuild Spotlight index
V Apple's way:
* From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences.
* Click Spotlight.
* Click the Privacy tab.
* Drag a folder or even an entire volume (your hard drive) to the list.
* Remove the item or volume you just added.
V From the Terminal use the command:
* sudo mdutil -E /
* Then enter your admin password. It will take a moment and then return: "Indexing enabled. "
* After that you should see the Spotlight Indexing animation in the menu bar.