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OS X El Capitan: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Customizing Spotlight

You’ve just read about how Spotlight works fresh out of the box. But you can tailor its behavior, both for security reasons and to fit it to the kinds of work you do.

Here are two ways to open the Spotlight preferences center:

  • Use Spotlight itself. Hit ⌘-space bar, type spotl, and press Return.

  • Choose System Preferences. Click Spotlight.

In any case, you wind up face to face with the dialog box shown in Figure 3-11.

You can tweak Spotlight in two ways here, both very useful:

  • Turn off categories. The list of checkboxes identifies what Spotlight tracks. If you find that Spotlight uses up valuable menu space listing, say, web bookmarks or fonts—stuff you don’t need to find very often—then turn off their checkboxes. Now the Spotlight menu’s limited precious slots are allotted to icon types you care more about.

    This trick can be especially useful if you don’t use Spotlight’s Internet-searching features. “I’m perfectly capable of looking up movies online,” you might say. “I don’t need to clutter my Spotlight results list with movie names.” Fine—turn off Movies.

  • Change the keystroke. Ordinarily, pressing ⌘-space bar highlights Spotlight in your menu bar, and Option-⌘-space bar opens the Searching window. If these keystrokes clash with some other key assignment in your software, though, you can reassign them to almost any other keystroke you like.

    To do that, click Keyboard ...

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