One of my favorite uses for Spotlight is its ability to quickly and while using only the keyboard open any application on my computer. But first, here’s a little background on Spotlight in Mac OS X.

From wikipedia.org:
Spotlight is a system-wide desktop search feature of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system introduced in version 10.4 on April 29, 2005. It is designed to allow the user to quickly locate a wide variety of items on the computer, including documents, pictures, music, applications, System Preferences, as well as specific words in documents. It also allows the user to narrow down searches with creation dates, modification dates, sizes, types and other attributes.

Sounds great, right? But how does it do it? Spotlight actually creates an index, a database really, of not only every file on your computer, but nearly every word typed into every file of every program on the entire computer! Sounds like a lot, and really it is. You can find any document or file you’ve ever written simply by typing in a couple words typed anywhere in the document, simply amazing!

Spotlight is a hugely powerful tool and can demand an entire book about how to use it. One tip for today is how I typically open any app that I need to use that is not on my Dock. This tip is for OS 10.5 (Leopard), but may work in Tiger as well.

To activate Spotlight, you can hit Command+Space from any program. This will open the Spotlight Menu and gives you a dialog box you can type in. I simply start typing the name of the app I am wanting to open, typically its TextEdit or Terminal, and it shows up right at the top of the list. Usually I only need to type in the first few letters and Spotlight has already found what I am looking for.

This has been a life saver for me and I use it daily. For someone who wants a clean desktop and dock but still needs to access a variety of applications Spotlight makes it quick and easy to find, open, and use what you need. Thanks, Spotlight!

Here are some more links to using Spotlight for searches:

http://www.discoveryourmac.com/SpotlightTips.html
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=304778
http://db.tidbits.com/article/9283

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