Two Keyboard Shortcuts For Faster Searching On Your Mac [OS X Tips]

Search Shortcuts

Searching for stuff is a big part of what we do on our computers, right? I know that I use Google daily for searching, both for topical information as well as just plain old “where is that website” search. Both Safari and Chrome search right from the address bar, and Spotlight has been in the upper right corner of Mac OS X for several iterations now.

There’s a faster way to access your preferred search engine and Spotlight, however, using only your keyboard.

Launch System Preferences and click on the Keyboard icon in the list of preference panes. Once in the Keyboard pane, click on the Shortcuts button at the top. Click on the Services icon in the left-hand column, and then scroll down to the Searching section.

Enable Search With Google and Spotlight with a click on the checkbox next to each label. The default shortcut for searching the web with Google (this will change if you choose a different default search engine in Safari preferences) is Shift-Command-L, and the shortcut for Spotlight is Shift-Command-F.

These shortcuts will work system wide, even in something as odd as iTunes. You can click on any track in your music library and then hit Shift-Command-L to have Google search for information about the track. You can also search any text item you can highlight. Simply double click on the text you want to search for, and hit Shift-Command-L. Your Mac will launch Safari and take you to the Google search page.

Spotlight searching works much the same way, though you may want to change the default to something else, as Command-Shift-F will make some apps like Chrome go fullscreen. I added an Option keystroke to my shortcut, making it Command-Shift-Option-F, so as to not conflict with the fullscreen command in Chrome. Now I can highlight any word or string of words, hit Command-Shift-Option-F and a Spotlight window appears with that search term pre-filled into the search field. It’s very convenient.

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  • lowtolerance

    Why “F” and “L”? “A”, “S” or “D” seem like much more ergonomic candidates.

  • dcj001

    Without needing to enable search with Google and Spotlight, the default keyboard command to highlight the address bar (to search) is Command-L. To use Spotlight, it is Command-Space.

    Isn’t this easier than changing settings and needing to hold three or four keys?

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Games and Tips Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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