How To Use Spotlight Preference Pane To Customize Search

The spotlight was first introduced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2004. The spotlight is a cool way to search and locate a wide variety of items like documents, pictures, music, applications and System preferences items. Furthermore, you can also search for specific words in documents and a web browser’s history or bookmarks in web pages. It also allows you to quickly access definitions from the built-in New Oxford American Dictionary and to calculator functionality.

Spotlight preference pane

Well, if you want to make the search more precise, then you can customize and control the way Spotlight searches and displays results with Spotlight preference pane. Moreover, you can exclude the volumes that you don’t want Spotlight to search.

How to Access Spotlight Preference Pane

  • Go to Apple menu and select System preferences or you can locate System Preferences in the Dock.
  • Once the System Preferences pane is displayed, select the Spotlight preferences pane by clicking on the magnifying glass icon. The Spotlight preference pane window will open.

Spotlight Preference Pane Settings

The Spotlight Preference Pane has two tabs Search Results and Privacy at the top of the pane and it has the tab for configuring keyboard shortcuts at the bottom of the pane. The middle portion is a display area with the list of applications and files and is controlled by the two tabs located at the top.

Spotlight Search Results Tab and Search Results Order:

The Search results tab displays different file types that Spotlight knows. Moreover, it also shows the order in which they are displayed. It enables you to choose and delete file types from Spotlight.

The spotlight is aware of different file types including applications, folders, spreadsheets, documents, music, and images. The sequence in which search results are displayed that match a file type depends on the sequence in which the file types are displayed in the preference pane.

You can be a master and control the sequence in which the results are displayed in a spotlight search, all you need to do is drag the file types around in the preference pane and rearrange them according to your preferences.

Each file type has a checkmark next to it.  If you want to remove the unwanted search results then, you need to remove the checkmark. This will increase the search speed and give you precise results.

Spotlight Privacy Tab

This tab helps you to hide volumes and folders that you don’t Spotlight to search. Moreover, it is also used for Indexing. Indexing is the way that Spotlight uses to show search results quickly. Spotlight looks at a file or folder’s meta data whenever it is created or altered. It stores the information in an index file, which enables it to search and show results quickly without scanning Mac’s file system whenever you search for something.

You can use Privacy tab to hide folders and volumes that you want to exclude from the search, in that way, it will not have more data to the index which would increase the overall system performance.

You can add and remove folders to the Privacy tab, all you need to do is click on the plus(+) and minus(-) button at the bottom of the pane.

Spotlight Keyboard Shortcuts

There are two Keyboard Shortcuts present at the bottom of Spotlight preference pane to invoke the Spotlight search fast, one is the Spotlight search from the Apple menu bar and another from a Finder window.

  • Spotlight searches from the menu bar will search anywhere on your Mac.
  • Spotlight searches from Finder window only show results on the basis of the folders, files and sub folders in the current Finder window.

Note: Items that are listed in the Privacy tab are not incorporated in both the searches.

To enable or disable keyboard shortcuts, you need to place or remove the check mark next to the keyboard shortcuts you wish to use.

Once you are satisfied with the changes made, you can close the Spotlight preference pane. The customization will help you to find the things on your Mac easily and fast. Try it and let us know in the comment section below.

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