Navigate the spotlight search in OS X

Apple's Spotlight search offers some quick navigation features for selecting your desired results.

Spotlight is the indexed search routine Apple includes with OS X, which allows you to quickly locate documents, folders, and other items on your system both by name and by relevant content. While convenient for finding items on your computer, sometimes the search results may be a bit large.

To manage search results better, you can enable or disable categories in the Spotlight System Preferences, or rearrange them so that those you more commonly use are in a more accessible location. For example, if you use Spotlight as an application launcher, then moving the Applications category to the top of the list will make the applications you search for easier to select and open with just a few keystrokes.

Spotlight search results in OS X
Spotlight search results can be long, so jumping between categories can be useful. Screenshot by Topher Kessler/CNET

While such customizations are doable, you may still encounter times when search results are long, and show many categories of items. In these case, you might wish to navigate the results slightly faster than you might otherwise do.

Apple supports two options for more quickly navigating the search results, you can quickly jump to different categories, or jump to the beginning or end of the list. To use these, first search for your keywords, and then do the following:

  1. Jump between categories -- Hold the Command key and press the up or down arrows.
  2. Jump to the beginning or end -- Hold the Control key and press the up or down arrows (you can also use the Home and End, or Page Up and Page Down keys) on your keyboard.

While the use of the mouse may arguably be a faster way to access some of the items in the spotlight menu, for those who are fast typers and/or those who use the keyboard more, these options may offer some convenience.

Questions? Comments? Have a fix? Post them below or e-mail us!
Be sure to check us out on Twitter and the CNET Mac forums.

Featured Video