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Finding What You Want with Spotlight in OS X Mavericks

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This chapter is from the book

Spotlight is the built-in search tool of OS X Mavericks. This chapter shows how to use it to find content on your Mac, how to filter search results, set search preferences, and get help when you need it.

Introduction

If you’re looking for specific content on your computer or network and you don’t know where to find it, you can use Spotlight to help you locate it. Spotlight not only searches the names of your files and folders, it also searches their content. In addition, Spotlight searches other information stored in files, known as metadata, which describes how and when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, or how the data is formatted. Examples of metadata include authors, page size, creation and modification dates, duration of music and movies, dimensions of graphics or PDF documents, exposure time of a camera lens for photographs, and names of layers in Photoshop.

Spotlight is conveniently located on the right side of the menu bar on your Mac screen. You can identify Spotlight by the blue icon with a magnifying glass. Spotlight performs a live search of your Home folder on your computer using the information you know. As you type in Spotlight, a menu appears displaying a list of everything Spotlight can find to match what you’ve typed so far. As you continue to type, the list changes. Spotlight searches for everything on your computer that matches what you’ve typed, which includes every file, folder, program, e-mail message, address book entry, calendar appointment, picture, movie, PDF document, music file, web bookmark, Microsoft Office document, and System Preferences panel, and lists the 20 best matches divided into categories, which you can customize later.

When you start OS X for the first time, Spotlight automatically starts collecting search information about your Home folder, known as indexing. The indexing process initially takes about 15 to 30 minutes to perform (the Spotlight icon pulses) and then updates take place as needed. Indexing the information on your computer reduces the time it takes to perform a search.

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OS X Mavericks on Demand

This chapter is from the book

OS X Mavericks on Demand

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