Skip to content
Thoughtful, detailed coverage of everything Apple for 34 years
and the TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals

New Take Control Ebook Helps You Find Anything on Your Mac

Long-time Mac expert Sharon Zardetto has now illuminated one of Mac OS X’s shadowy corners: Spotlight searching. In her latest book, “Take Control of Spotlight for Finding Anything on Your Mac,” she explains how to use Spotlight in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion to find almost anything on a Mac — files, folders, contacts, appointments, songs, or even pictures of a particular size — no matter where they are hidden. Most importantly, this new 158-page ebook reveals the secret grammar behind Spotlight searches so you can search directly using Spotlight’s internal query language.

Sharon first explains how Spotlight indexes data, describes the concepts underlying Spotlight searches, and then illustrates the many ways one can start Spotlight searches, whether by way of the magnifying glass in the menu bar, the search field in Finder windows or the Open and Save dialogs, a keyboard shortcut, a contextual menu, or customized and saved searches that you can make for yourself. She then turns to how you can find exactly what you’re looking for, by employing keyword searches, multiple-criteria searches, Boolean searches, and more.

Remember, searches aren’t just about finding lost files, they’re also useful for selecting a set of matching files to work on. For instance, we’ve used Spotlight to identify which photos in a folder are small thumbnails or which of our ebooks lack a certain phrase. You can even do things like find every GarageBand song in the key of E-flat.

Readers of “Take Control of Spotlight for Finding Anything on Your Mac” will learn essential search-related techniques, including how to:

  • Improve search accuracy by limiting Spotlight to searching just where you want.

  • Reduce result clutter by choosing which categories appear in the Spotlight menu.

  • Learn what to do when the Spotlight menu doesn’t list an item that it should be able to find.

  • Use criteria bars (and even the elusive Boolean bars!) to create complex search queries.

  • Bypass criteria bars by typing complex, powerful queries in any Spotlight search field.

  • Build Boolean searches with AND, OR, and NOT to narrow search results precisely.

In addition, you will discover how to make files even easier to find with these techniques:

  • Customizing a file’s metadata.
  • Employing free third-party utilities to give files useful, searchable tags.

  • Setting up sophisticated smart folders that provide dynamic file organization.

In these days of terabyte drives, your Mac has enormous storage capacity, and you may have many thousands of files squirreled away (we don’t even want to admit to how many hundreds of thousands of files are filling up our disks!). But with the expertise you’ll gain from “Take Control of Spotlight for Finding Anything on Your Mac,” you’ll be able to retrieve whatever you need from your Mac, no matter how deeply it’s buried or how specific you need to make your search.

Subscribe today so you don’t miss any TidBITS articles!

Every week you’ll get tech tips, in-depth reviews, and insightful news analysis for discerning Apple users. For over 33 years, we’ve published professional, member-supported tech journalism that makes you smarter.

Registration confirmation will be emailed to you.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA. The Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.