I’ve started to use Spotlight on my iMac and it’s fantastic! But how can I have it omit certain folders in search results?
I have to be candid, I’m always amazed at how few people use the Spotlight central control and search feature on their MacOS X systems. Whether you’re still on MacOS X 10.12 or completely up to date with 10.15, I consider Spotlight a key productivity tool on my Mac and use it at least once an hour, every hour of the day that I’m on my Mac. And that’s a lot. 🙂
Launched with a simple Command+Space keystroke, it’s essentially central control for everything on your Mac. Sure you can type in a word or two and launch an application or open a file, but there’s more it can do too, including solve complex mathematical equations and even give you the quick definition of a word you’re unsure about. All within a fraction of a second.
It does tend to index every darn thing on your computer, however, so if you want to keep some documents, an email archive or a folder full of photos out of the Spotlight scope, you have to go and configure it thusly. Which you can do… in Spotlight!
To start, simultaneously press Command and the space bar (e.g. Cmd-Space). This slim window will appear:
It’s modest, but type and it’ll start doing cool stuff. To omit a folder from your search results, let’s launch Spotlight by typing in “spotlight”:
You can see that there are quite a few matches, but the first one is the System Preferences for the Spotlight program itself. A perfect match. Press Return or just click on the program icon to launch it.
Spotlight by default shows you all the categories of information it’s considering in search results:
Notice that “Bookmarks & History” is one of the options. That’s from the Safari browser, and if you use Safari you can actually use Spotlight to quickly search through your Web browser history. Darn helpful!
You can also see that I omit Fonts. I don’t need them to show up in search results, but events and reminders? Great! Go through each and uncheck any you prefer to have omitted. Want to block a specific folder? Click on the “Privacy” tab along the top…
Here you can just click “+” and add whatever folder or folders you’d like Spotlight to ignore. Super easy, really.
Done? Two quick demos of why I love Spotlight on my Mac. First, math:
A tap on Return and you’ll open up Calculator so you can do more detailed equations if that’s your wont.
And… definitions. Just type in a word and Spotlight will tell you what it means:
Hurray! Now that word’s not quite so obscure. 🙂
Anyway, that’s the scoop. Play around with Spotlight and I bet you’ll be relying on it in no time at all.
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about the Mac since the beginning of the OS. Please check out my extensive Mac Help Pages here on the site for tons of useful tutorials and insider tips.