How to find anything on your Mac without the mouse or trackpad

You can clutter up your Dock up with icons, create aliases and click on the Applications menu in your Favorites sidebar in the Finder. But the quickest way to find what you're looking for doesn't require you to click at all: You can do everything right from the keyboard with Spotlight. Here's how.

How to find stuff fast with Spotlight

  1. Hold down the command key and the space bar. That brings up the Spotlight search field, which looks like it appears here in Yosemite.
  2. Type the first few letters of the app or file you're looking for. Spotlight scours your hard disk and pops up a list of matching files.

You have control over the order Spotlight reports results matching your search criteria. You can open the Spotlight System Preference to reorder results.

How to reorder Spotlight search results

  1. Press command and space.
  2. Type the first few letters of "spotlight." Spotlight should find its own system preference. Open it once you see it in the menu, you can use your Mac's cursor keys to select it, then hit return to open it.
  3. The Spotlight system preference shows search result order by default. Reorder it however you want.

There are times you may not want Spotlight to index certain files. Files that contain sensitive personal information you don't want exposed accidentally. Boudoir photos. Whatever the case, you can configure Spotlight's Privacy setting to exclude content you don't want to be able to search for.

How to keep Spotlight out of your private files

  1. Open the Spotlight system preference as in the steps above.
  2. Click on the Privacy tab.
  3. Select the folder or folders you'd like to exclude. To select non-contiguous folders, hold down the command key.
  4. If you decide later that it's safe for Spotlight to index the contents of these folders, simply click on the name or names of the folders you want Spotlight to index and click on the - button.

Need more tips?

Any questions? Let me know.