Spotlight Guides

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.
Performing a Spotlight search is intuitive and easy.  Just click on the Spotlight icon in the upper right corner or simultaneously press command-space to reveal the Spotlight search box.
You can perform a Spotlight search directly from any OS X Finder window.  Simply type your search into the box in the upper right hand corner of a Finder window and surely enough, the Spotlight results will be displayed within the current window.
Smart Folders are special folders that can dynamically hold content based on a specific Spotlight search.  Smart Folders self-update in that they search for the criteria you have specified and point to those items within the folder the moment you open the folder.
You can customize the behavior of Spotlight by adjusting and tweaking Spotlight's preferences.
Perhaps you don't know where to modify a setting, no problem just search for it.  Starting with Mac OS X Tiger, it's easy to search for a setting in System Preferences.  The images included in this guide will be from Mac OS X Leopard.
Thanks to the slick Aqua user interface you have different options to browse through your MacIntosh HD.  You can accomplish this with a few simple clicks of the mouse and/or keystrokes.  If you prefer the command line, you can launch the Terminal application and browse using UNIX commands.
After you have created a Spotlight Smart Folder and have it sitting in the Finder Sidebar, you may decide that you want to modify or update the search criteria.  You can do this in a few easy steps.
Spotlight can also be used as an application launcher.  Suppose you don't have the application you want to launch located in the Dock.  No worries, you won't have to search within the Applications folder to first locate the application and then launch it, just use Spotlight.
Mac OS X is able to search for and within several types of files.  Third party software vendors can make their documents search able via an Importer plug-in that details how the file contents are formatted.  Apple provides developers a means to create Spotlight Importer plug-ins to allow Spotlight to search third party files.