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Mac hints and tips

Don't open Spotlight files
When you use Spotlight to find files (click the magnifying glass in the top right corner of the screen), and you click a file in the list of results, it is opened for you in the associated application. For example, an image or photo might open in Preview. But what if you don't want to open the file? For example, you might want to copy it to another device, like a CD-R, external hard disk drive, or flash memory drive, or you might just want to see what folder it is in. To open a Finder window and display the folder containing the file, hold down the Command key (the one with the Apple logo), as you click the file.


Customise Spotlight categories
Spotlight is a great tool for finding files on your Mac's hard disk drive when you can't remember where you put them and you just click the magnifying glass at the top right corner of the screen and type in a name or part of a name. A list of matching items is quickly displayed.

If you try it you'll see that the results are categorised and there are applications, documents, pictures, music and so on. You can change the order of the categories to make the results more convenient and make it easier to find what you are looking for. For example, music is always at the bottom of the results, but if you frequently search for music on your Mac you'll probably find it more convenient to have the music results at the top of the list, or you might want Mail messages at the top if you often search for emails. Changing the order of the categories is easy.

Spotlight preferencesClick the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and select System Preferences. Click Spotlight in the Personal section and you will see a list of search result categories.

The order of these categories is the order in which the results categories will be displayed when you search for stuff with Spotlight.

To change the order of the categories just click and drag them. As you click and drag you'll see a thick black line that indicates its new position. Just drop the category and it's inserted in the new position.


Stop Spotlight finding files
Spotlight is used to find files on your computer, files that you have lost or you can't remember their location. Given that Spotlight is for finding files, why would you want it not to find them? The reason is that Spotlight sometimes finds too much and results that you are not interested in clutter the search results list making it harder to find what you are really looking for. For example, you probably use iTunes to find and play music, which means that displaying music files in Spotlight search results isn't necessary. You probably don't need to list fonts in the search results because there are better ways of managing fonts.

Removing unwanted search result categories from Spotlight results leaves more space to display for the results you are interested in and this means that you are more likely to find what you are looking for.

Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and select System Preferences. Click Spotlight in the Personal section and you will see a list of search result categories. Clear the tick against any category that you are not interested in and then close the window.

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