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How to use Spotlight on macOS Ventura


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Spotlight got some essential features in macOS Ventura like image search, quick actions, rich results and more. Learn about updates here.

Find almost anything on your Mac, in iCloud, in apps, or on the web using Apple’s search tool called Spotlight. Invoke it at any time using the keyboard shortcut CMD + Space.

When typing a query in Spotlight, every possible result is shown, sorted by category. Data is obtained from a multitude of locations, including application data, mail, documents, and Safari search results. Mathematical formulas and currency conversions can be performed directly from the search bar.

Spotlight updates on macOS Ventura

macOS Ventura introduces some new tricks that can be performed using Spotlight. These include improved data presentation, file quick view and image search.

Previewing files

Performing any type of search returns results that can be previewed using a new model window. Navigate through the results using the arrow keys, then press the space bar to activate the preview.

A preview window appears when the space bar is pressed over the highlighted result

A preview window appears when the space bar is pressed over the highlighted result

Web results show as a Safari preview with the option to open in Safari, calculations or conversions get a dedicated window with relevant additional data, and files get full preview windows. Press the space bar again to close the modal window.

Navigation to a searched file is not always straightforward. Original images in Spotlight open in Preview with no clear path to the file’s root folder. Using the “more” button in each category can sometimes clarify the source of the search result.

Rich results

Searching for something with more details available sometimes gives “richer results”. These results appear at the top of the results and have a different icon than other results, such as a silhouette of a person or a microphone.

Rich results show multiple data points and links about a topic or person

Rich results show multiple data points and links about a topic or person

Search for a music artist name, movie, book title or celebrity to get their rich results panel. Details can be pulled from available public knowledge, curated content from Apple, Apple Music, Apple TV and more.

These results are at the top and are self-contained but can sometimes be further down in the web results if other more relevant information appears first.

Image recognition has been greatly improved in Apple’s apps, so search results show images based on loose search terms. Text, faces, and object recognition also return relevant image results across your iCloud data.

Search results may include images from the web or your photo library

Search results may include images from the web or your photo library

For example, when searching for “Apple Watch”, images from our iCloud Photo Library in which the Apple Watch appears are returned. Text in Notes also appeared from the screenshots mentioning the Apple Watch.

Results also include images from the web. It’s not clear which search engine Apple polls to get image results, but it’s likely Google since it’s Siri’s default engine. However, users don’t have to worry about Google’s tracking in this case as Apple uses its own identifier when searching this way.

Quick steps

Quick Actions are not yet available in macOS Ventura beta. However, they are taking advantage of Apple’s new systems around built-in app shortcuts.

Quick Actions enable users to perform tasks directly from Spotlight results

Quick Actions enable users to perform tasks directly from Spotlight results

Typing a command or feature gives the relevant actions that can be taken based on what the developer provided. For example, typing “clock” may reveal a “start timer” action or “create alarm”.

Shortcuts already appear in search results, but Apple’s description of the Quick Actions feature indicates that the Shazam action will run directly in Spotlight Search. We will provide more details about this feature once it is added in beta testing or final release.

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