Using Spotlight to Find File Locations

My finals are done, that means i’ll be able to post more frequently and bring you tips on a more frequent basis.

My first post exam tip is using spotlight to get to the files you need instead of “surfing” and browsing your way to the files.

We’ve talked about spotlight a couple of times previously, and at this point I would highly recommend you getting use to it. It’s the way of the future. No longer will you be required to dig through various folders to find what you are looking for. Just, a quick review before we proceed. Spotlight is an application that is built right into OS X Tiger, or version 10.4 if you prefer that notation. It appears as a blue icon on your menu bar at the top of your screen in the top right corner. Its a magnifying glass! To open it you can either click on it, and a drop down search field will appear, or, if you are like me and hate taking your hands off the keyboard (i know, i know, I’m a geek) you can push command+spacebar, this will also drop down the search dialogue. The command key is also the key with the apple logo on it.

Now, spotlight index’s your files while your computer is not in use. Essentially it takes an inventory of your files and remembers a whole slew of information. So… once you are in the search dialogue box you can type in the file name of part of a file name, and spotlight will bring up a list of all the different files and document types that meet the parameters of your search. It will search your address book, pictures, and any other type of file on your machine.

Generally you are just going to want to open the file, to do this use the up, and down arrow keys to navigate through the findings. Hit enter to open the file. If you don’t see what your looking for, go back to the very first item in the list “show all”, and it will open a window with all the results.

Now, for the tip. Say you need to find a file and find out where the file is in your machine, so you can back it up. Use the up and down keys and highlight the file you want. To open it in a new window how down the command key (or the apple key if you will), and hit enter. Viola! You are now in the folder where your file is residing. If you prefer using the mouse you can also hold down the command key and click your mouse button.

There are plenty of other things you can do with spotlight like saving search results. I’ll post some other tips in the next couple of days.

Now, get on it. Start using spotlight. Get use to it. It will probably one day be the only tool you have for navigating your files. You heard it here first!

Joshua Schnell

Joshua is the Content Marketing Manager at BuySellAds. He’s also the founder of And since all that doesn’t quite give him enough content to wrangle, he’s also a technology journalist in his spare time, with bylines at PCWorld, Macworld… Full Bio