What is Spotlight?

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Windows users are used to searching for files either through the basic search feature in Windows (all versions prior to Vista) or through add-ons such as Google Desktop Search.  Since the release of Mac OS X Tiger in April 2005, Mac users have taken their search experience to ta new level thanks to Spotlight, the advanced Desktop Search technology built into the core of Mac OS X.
spotlight_01.pngFast Intuitive and Intelligent
Spotlight is fast, intelligent, and thorough.  Search never has never  been so easy to use or looked so good on any operating system.  Thanks to Spotlight you'll be able to find just about everything on you Mac and remarkably, your searches will show up as you type.  Mac OS X Leopard (Mac OS X version 10.5) has added more features , advancements, and search options to Spotlight.
Easy to Access and Use
No matter where you or what you're doing, kicking off a search in Spotlight will be very easy.  Spotlight is located in the upper right corner of the Mac OS X screen and is easily identified by the white and blue magnifying icon.  You can easily launch Spotlight by simultaneously pressing command-space.

Those new to Mac will experience a significant search difference under Mac OS X when compared to Windows.  Whereas Windows has historically returned a list of files containing the search phrase (also called the string), Spotlight will return any and all things related to the search string.  For example, if you searched for the string "vacation", Spotlight would find all files on your Mac related to "vacation".  This could include items such as:

  • e-mails
  • documents
  • pictures
  • PDF's
  • folders
  • settings
  • recent web pages
Spotlight works by organizing, reading, and indexing metadata.  Metadata is simply "data about data" which is tied to the specific content stored on your system.  For example, when you snap a picture with a digital camera additional data (metadata) is stored within the picture such as the time the photo was taken, the camera model, the camera serial number, and so on.  Spotlight is able to read this "extra" data and can find it when a Mac user performs a search.

  • February 26, 2009 - content modification, image update
Created: 7:00 PM on Dec 24, 2006
By: switchtoamac