Apple’s Spotlight searches get smarter and more useful

By

Spotlight search
Spotlight is a lot smarter than it used to be.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

Using Spotlight to ask a basic question now sometimes gets a direct answer, not just a link to a website. This new feature makes this search engine built into iOS and macOS considerably more useful.

Apple hasn’t announced this change; users had to notice it on their own.

Using it is easy. Go to Spotlight with Command-space [⌘-space] and ask a basic question like “How far away is the Sun?” and the answer will be listed. Previously, this function would just include links to websites that contained the answer.

There are more elaborate answers available. A Spotlight search for “Why do cats meow?” results in a paragraph-long explanation.

Making Spotlight better

Spotlight started out as a way to search the iPhone, iPad or Mac. It’s quicker to use it to look for “John Jones” than to open the Contacts app then do the same search. And with a bit of practice it can be turned into the primary method for interacting with an iPad or iPhone.

The web search capability in Spotlight has fans, but most people turn to Google instead. Giving Spotlight the ability to directly answer questions, without requiring users to scan through web pages looking for their answers, might increase usage of this feature.