Tip: Copy search results directly from Spotlight

The Spotlight in OS X can be useful for finding applications to launch, documents, images, and many other items in your user account that you might wish to access. Pressing Command-Space bar will invoke Spotlight, where a simple search term or two will bring up relevant results, which can then be previewed or opened directly.

In addition to these actions, you can also copy Spotlight's search results simply by dragging items off of the list to a location of your choice. This may be useful in a number of ways:

Duplicate a found item to a desired location in … Read more

Improve your iPhone Mail searches with these four tips

If you have an e-mail inbox that stretches back years and years, searching for a particular e-mail can be a challenge, particularly when using the iPhone Mail app. Many times, my search query returns dozens or hundreds of results, and I find it difficult to sift through them on the small screen of my iPhone 4S (and I don't see it getting much easier next month when my current Verizon contract expires and I upgrade to an iPhone 5S and its slightly larger screen).

Thankfully, there is a handful of search parameters you can use to limit the number … Read more

Navigate the spotlight search in OS X

Spotlight is the indexed search routine Apple includes with OS X, which allows you to quickly locate documents, folders, and other items on your system both by name and by relevant content. While convenient for finding items on your computer, sometimes the search results may be a bit large.

To manage search results better, you can enable or disable categories in the Spotlight System Preferences, or rearrange them so that those you more commonly use are in a more accessible location. For example, if you use Spotlight as an application launcher, then moving the Applications category to the top of … Read more

How to find by name in OS X

When you search for items in OS X, the default is to use the Spotlight menu that is located to the right of the menu bar. This will allow you to search for items by content and metadata, which the system keeps indexed for quick access. In addition to Spotlight, OS X includes a Finder search feature, which uses the same index as Spotlight, but gives you scope and filtering options to refine your search.

While convenient for most searches, the default uses of these options may clutter searches in which you are trying to find a file by a … Read more

Search Web, Wikipedia returned to Spotlight in iOS 7.0.3

Apple released an update to iOS 7 after it's iPad event on Tuesday. The update, iOS 7.0.3, fixed a long list of bugs and issues, including the random inability to send or receive messages using iMessage.

One feature listed in the changelog is the addition of the familiar Search feature previously found in Spotlight. When iOS 7 was first launched last month, the ability to search the Web or Wikipedia was surprisingly missing. With the release of iOS 7.0.3, users will be able to search from Spotlight once again.

As you already know, you can … Read more

How to find files via the OS X Terminal

There several ways to find files in OS X, the most popular of which are GUI-based routines such as the Spotlight menu and the Finder search, both of which offer quick access to the system's metadata search index. However, there are other options for accessing this index and otherwise finding files you might be interested in locating.

Of course besides Apple's GUI options there are some third-party searching tools available; however, without these the other option in OS X is to use the Terminal, which can benefit both Terminal and GUI-based routines.

The first option in the Terminal … Read more

Where did Spotlight go in iOS 7?

Spotlight is a universal search box on iOS devices that makes it possible to quickly search for and find an app, contact, or e-mail directly from the home screen.

In previous versions of iOS, users would swipe to the left of the main home screen to access the search box. In iOS 7, as you may have already discovered, Spotlight is no longer located in the same spot.

Now, instead of swiping to the left of the main home screen, you can swipe down on any home screen to pull down the search field.

This is the same way users … Read more

Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which I answer Mac-related questions sent in by our readers.

This week, readers ask questions on how to set Time Machine to back up multiple drives attached to the system, how to install a fresh copy of OS X when an upgrade is released, and setting up a smart search to find all files on the system and not just user files.

I welcome contributions from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, please post them in the comments!

Question: Backing up multiple drives with Time Machine MacFixIt … Read more

How to add logic to search results in OS X

When searching for items in OS X, you can use the Spotlight menu or perform a Finder search routine. Finder, unlike the Spotlight menu, offers a number of filtering options you can add to your search to narrow down results, and you can even save them as canned searches that Apple calls Smart Folders.

To create a filtered search, simply press Command-F in the Finder, and the foremost window will convert to a search window, or you can start entering a search term in the Finder search bar at the top right of each window.

With the search window active, … Read more

How to prevent Spotlight from indexing files

Apple's Spotlight search technology is a quick way to find files, applications, contacts, and numerous other items on your system, but there are times when you might like to keep some things from being indexed and included in search results.

For example, if you have a collection of outdated program versions in a folder called "past versions," you might wish to keep Spotlight from showing them all, and only have it locate the most recent one that you use. This might also be true for temporary files you have on your system, such as those in the … Read more