It’s perhaps one of the most under-appreciated tools on your Mac®.  It’s Spotlight®, and it hunts down the files, folders, emails, photos, songs and pretty much anything else on your hard drive that you can’t find on your own.  It’s easy.  It’s super efficient.


And now with macOS® Catalina, Spotlight is just getting started.


In fact, with just a click on the magnifying glass in the menu bar, or a press of the Command-Space bar on the keyboard, you can now call on Spotlight's powerful metadata engine to launch apps, convert currency, track airline flights, perform calculations, check movie showtimes (and so much more) on your drive, on the web and, with iCloud Drive®, in the cloud.


And those initial docs you were hunting?  Now you can search for them with words, phrases, names and images, even customize how you want your search to perform.  Spotlight, in other words, is now a beast.


Let’s take a look at some of the new features spawned by the evolution of the macOS.


Launch Apps


Your go-to apps, of course, are all in the dock.  But now you can find and launch those other apps simply by using Spotlight and typing the first few characters of the app’s name.  Then double-click the app in the results list or, if it’s already selected, press Return.  This process also works for opening panes in System Preferences.  For apps and preference panes whose names have multiple words, you can also type the first letter of each word (for example, UG) to find and open the Users & Groups pane in System Preferences.


Convert Units and Currency


Need to figure out what 72º F is in Celsius?  Or precisely how many quarts are in a two-liter bottle?  Spotlight can now do a number of conversions for you in seconds.  Begin by typing your starting number, like 72, and then follow it with something that indicates your starting unit, such as “F” or “degrees.”  Spotlight displays the conversion instantly.


Particularly useful (especially for travelers or money managers) is Spotlight’s capability to do real-time currency conversions, since exchange rates float freely and fluctuate constantly.  Spotlight can’t convert all the world’s currencies, so the trick is knowing their abbreviations (such as GBP for the British pound or JPY for the Japanese yen).  To convert from US dollars into another currency, just add the phrase “in GBP” or the like after the dollar amount.


Perform Calculations


When you want to perform a simple calculation for which a spreadsheet would be overkill, you could use Spotlight to launch the Calculator app.  Now, it’s even faster to type your calculation into Spotlight itself, which even supports parentheses for specifying an order of operations.


Track Flights


Whether traveling yourself or on an airport run for others, Spotlight can help you manage your time.  Simply type in the airline name (or code, such as AA for American Airlines) and the flight number, and instantly learn if the flight is delayed or on schedule.


Check Movies, Stocks, Sports and Weather


They are all available at a glance with Spotlight.  You can enter the title of a current movie to see where it’s playing.  Or the symbol of a stock to see the current price and activity.  Or the word Penguins to see if they’re still trailing.  Or a city name to check climate conditions and extended forecast.  


Spotlight is so flexible, in fact, you can even customize it by using System Preferences.  You can change the categories that appear in Spotlight search results, exclude specific folders or disks, even create some privacy options.  Spotlight will then search only the data, docs or content you allow it to find.


Test out some of these awesome new features when you have the opportunity.  And remember, CranstonIT techs are not only Spotlight experts, they’re macOS experts — so ask us your most challenging questions by calling 412-200-5656  or emailing support@cranstonit.com.