Spotlight can find items on your Mac, show all kinds of information—from sources like the web, Maps, and Music—and even get conversions, calculations, and definitions for you.

The Spotlight menu showing an example search with search results.

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

Search for something

  1. On your Mac, 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 and the search field says Spotlight Search.

  2. In the search field, type what you’re looking for—results appear as you type.

    • Find files on your Mac by typing what you’re looking for in the same way you’d say it. For example, you could search by typing “california photos” or “emails from kelly.”

    • Find things on the web using Spotlight Suggestions and in the iTunes Store, the App Store, and Apple Books. For example, you can search for weather, sports, websites, stocks, flight status, celebrities, music, movies, books, and more.

View and use search results

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

  • Use a preview: Click items or links in the preview on the right. For example, to hear a song in your music playlist, click the Play button next to the song.

  • Show the location of a file on your Mac: Select the file in the results list, then press and hold 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 the Finder.

During downtime, or if you reach the time limit set for apps in Screen Time preferences, app icons are dimmed and an hourglass icon  is shown. See Schedule downtime.

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 krone 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 “32 ft 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 in the Definition section.

Ask Siri. Say something like: “How many centimeters in an inch?” or “What does parboil mean?” Learn more about Siri.

When Spotlight Suggestions are enabled, some apps—for example, Mail, Messages, and Notes—may outline an item (such as an artist name, a place, or a movie title) in text or make it a link as a hint that more information is available. Just click the arrow or the link to read more in the Look up window. (Your messages, emails, and other content are not sent to Apple; only the items identified as Look up hints and related usage data may be sent.)

You can 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. See Change Spotlight preferences.

Adapted: October 2, 2020  

Originally Posted on Apple Support