Spotlight Tips

Boolean operations

Like a web search field, Spotlight supports boolean operators like AND, OR, and NOT. You can also use a minus sign (-) to exclude terms. For example:

chocolate recipes -coconut

Use quotation marks to enclose phrases and parentheses to enclose search terms:

chocolate AND "peanut butter" NOT (almonds OR coconut)

Searching by date

The ‘Modified’ and ‘Created’ attributes can accept all kinds of dates. You can use things like:

To search before a date: 1/1/2011
To search in a date range: 1/1/2011-3/13/2011

Suppose you wanted to see every text file you modified in the month of March containing the word “monkey”:

monkey kind:text modified:3/1/2011-3/31/2011

Searching by metadata

Here are a few common attribute types:

name (i.e. the file name)

kind (e.g. App, Text, PDF, Spreadsheet, Document, Image, Movie, Music, Folder, Message, and more)



Special file types like music have even more. You can use things like “by” to search music by artist.

Using the name attribute is a powerful way to narrow searches. It cuts out any hits that come from matching content. I usually remember some piece of file names, and I almost always know what kind they are. Like, say I was trying to track down my Nikon manual:

name:nikon kind:pdf