How to Control What Spotlight Searches for in OS X

Spotlight is an incredible tool for quickly navigating through applications and files on your Mac without having to dig through Finder to locate what you need. If you have a large music collection, giant font catalog, and a massive library of documents, Spotlight can appear sluggish and cumbersome. In addition, you might not want to see your email and chat while searching for a specific contact. You can customize your Spotlight results and choose how you want them to appear when you search. Here are some tips on how to control what Spotlight searches for in OS X:

To access the panel, simply open System Preferences and click on Spotlight located in the Personal category. It appears as a blue circle with a magnifying glass inside. That’s it; now you’re in the right place to start making changes to Spotlight.

To change the order in which result categories appear, all you need to do is click and drag categories to put them in the desired order. For example, if you want System Preferences to appear in front of Applications, you can click anywhere in the System Preferences area and drag it up above Applications in the list.

You can also remove categories you don’t want to show up entirely by removing the checkmark in the box next to the category’s icon and title in the list. For example, if you have a large music collection and don’t want Spotlight filling up with track lists (or having to query them at all), you can simply remove music from the menu.

You can access Spotlight at any time using a keyboard shortcut. Through this window, you can customize what you want that shortcut to be. By default, the key combination is command + space but you can configure it to be anything you’d like, pending the combination isn’t already in use. To do this, click either the drop-down next to the current setting and select a function key or hit the yellow attention triangle next to it. This will pull up your keyboard shortcuts pane allowing you to configure any shortcuts you’d like to use in OS X. Spotlight should be located in the section to the left, allowing you to easily change the command.

With these steps done, you should have Spotlight configured the way you want and find exactly what you need to find faster and easier.

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