Spotlight

5 must-have productivity apps for Mac

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Speed up your work on a Mac
These apps (and system features) will help you work faster.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

I’m going to show you five ways you can instantly boost your productivity on your Mac. You might not have thought your Mac was capable of these advanced features. But in my opinion, the Mac’s reputation for being un-customizable is misunderstood. Three of these tips depend on apps that will add radical new system features to your computer.

I’ll show you how to get instant window snapping on the Mac, powerful screenshot and recording tools, a clever clipboard manager that should be built into macOS, a simple tip for opening apps faster, and a smart time-tracking tool that’ll keep you productive.

How to add a Smart Folder to your Mac’s Dock (and why you’ll want to)

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A Smart Folder can make a powerful addition to your Dock.
A Smart Folder can make a powerful addition to your Dock.
Photo: Dan Counsell/Unsplash CC

I have an app I use every day, but whenever I open it, it opens to a new, blank document, instead of the project I was working on when I closed the app. To open that project, I have to mouse up to my Mac’s menu bar, click on File > Recent Items…, and find it in there.

To fix this, I set out to find a way to easily access the last few projects from this app. What if I could put this list of recent projects into my Mac’s Dock? It turns out that you can easily do this, using a quick Spotlight search, a Smart Folder and a drag to the Dock.

How to make your Mac’s dictionary popup way, way faster

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spotlight popup
A spotlight, looking something up.
Photo: Richard Ciraulo/Unsplash

What happens when you use a three-finger tap on your Mac’s touchpad to look up a word? In olden times, it would bring up a dictionary definition, instantly. Today, it probably doesn’t do anything. Not for a few seconds at least. Or rather, it pops up a panel right away, but then it takes a few seconds to load whatever Siri reckons you might be looking for.

So, how do we stop this madness? Easy. We switch it off in the Mac’s settings, aka System Preferences.

6 power-user tricks for Mac Spotlight

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Spotlight is good for much more than just finding files.
Spotlight is good for much more than just finding files.
Photo: Pixabay/Pexels CC

Spotlight for Mac. Isn’t it that little magnifying glass icon in the menubar, the one that you click when you’ve given up trying to find that document you swear is somewhere on your Mac? Well yes, it is. But if you know these Mac Spotlight tips, it can be so much more than that.

You can use it to find a document, even if you can only remember a snippet of text from inside that document. But you can also use it to do math, launch apps, open folders, and even check the weather. These Mac Spotlight tricks will let you get the most out of this underutilized feature.

How to turn on Mac Bluetooth without a mouse

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Dust off any old USB keyboard and get your Bluetooth back in action.
Dust off any old USB keyboard and get your Bluetooth back in action.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You wake up or restart your Mac, and nothing is connected. Your Bluetooth keyboard does nothing. You wiggle your Bluetooth mouse or trackpad, and the on-screen pointer refuses to wiggle in response. The problem? You Mac’s Bluetooth is switched off. But how do you switch it back on without a mouse?

Today we’ll see how to activate Bluetooth on an iMac, Mac Pro or Mac mini 1 without having to touch a mouse or trackpad. All you need are a USB keyboard, Spotlight and one clever trick.

How to use iOS Spotlight like a launchbar for your iPad

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Let these shortcuts take care of your morning routine, so you can focus more on important things, like breakfast.
Let these shortcuts take care of your morning routine, so you can focus more on important things, like breakfast.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Every morning, after I park my iPad in its desk stand, I start writing the same way: I play the same music playlist; I start the Focus app, which reminds me to take breaks; and I create a new Ulysses sheet to start typing in. And I do all of these almost without touching the screen.

You’d be surprised at how much you can do on the iPad with just the keyboard. Today we’re going to see some cool examples, plus a bonus Good Morning shortcut.

Remove annoying clutter from iPad Spotlight searches

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spotlight
No, not this kind of spotlight.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you use Spotlight to find stuff on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll be familiar with the mess of results you get when you search. Maybe you’re searching for a note or an email about that really important thing, only the actual results you want are buried under a heap of nonsense from twitter, from YouTube, from all the Ebay classifieds you’ve viewed, and so on.

The good news is, you can trim these results, eliminating the noise you don’t need. The even better news is that recent versions of iOS do this is a much more elegant way.

Pro Tip: Use iOS Spotlight as a keyboard app launcher

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spotlight keyboard ap launcher
A spotlight helps find things.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Pro Tip Cult of Mac bugDid you know that you can use Spotlight on iOS as an app launcher? It works just like Launchbar or Alfred on the Mac. You just hit a keyboard shortcut and start typing, then hit enter to launch the app. If you have a wireless (or wired) keyboard attached to your iPad, you’re going to love this tip.

This great iOS Spotlight trick lets you know everything about a person

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spotlight contact search
Several spotlights.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Somewhere after the launch of iOS 11, Apple tweaked Spotlight search to be way more useful. Now, when you search for a person, you can trigger a sub-search that lets you find everything you have on them, from emails, to iMessages, to their contact details, through WhatsApp messages, to calendar events. Anywhere that your selected contact exists on your iPhone or iPad will show up in the list.

And then, you can narrow the results with a sub search.

These are all the things Spotlight can find on your iPhone and iPad

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spotlight
A picture of a light, to illustrate Spotlight search.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Spotlight is Apple’s search technology for Mac and iOS, and it can help you find almost anything. Not just stuff on your iPhone, either. Spotlight can also help you find nearby places, look up words in a dictionary, and even do currency and unit conversions, all from one search box. Let’s take a look at everything Spotlight can do on your iPhone or iPad.

How to upgrade to macOS High Sierra the right way

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Save $200 on a new iMac
Elevate your Mac to High Sierra.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s latest update for the Mac finally arrived today in the form of macOS High Sierra, bringing a host of improvements to Mac users. While the update doesn’t contain a ton of outward-facing changes, it’s definitely worth taking the time to upgrade if you want your Mac to be faster and more secure than ever.

Here’s how to do it.

Apple ditches Bing for Google on Siri and Spotlight

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Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant
Siri is switching to Google.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple just gave Microsoft’s search engine Bing a huge blow today by replacing it with Google on iOS and macOS.

The company previously used Bing search results as the default when users made a search query via Siri on iPhones or from Spotlight on Macs. Bing will still be around in some capacity, but it appears that the company has given in and turned back to using Google.

iOS 11 makes Spotlight search super-powerful

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spotlight search in iOS 11
Spotlight in iOS 11 is a power-users dream, letting you find anything -- whether on the web on on your device -- fast.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Spotlight search gets a big overhaul in iOS 11. The Spotlight updates in iOS 11 don’t seem quite as spectacular as the iPad’s new Dock, or drag-and-drop, but the small tweaks make the search tool a lot more useful.

Now you can search both your iPad and the web, similar to how you conduct a search in Safari. If you ever used Launchbar, Alfred or Quicksilver on the Mac, the new iOS 11 Spotlight will feel familiar.

Here’s when you can upgrade to macOS High Sierra

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macOS update
A macOS update adds support for Messages in iCloud.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Following three months of beta testing, macOS High Sierra is almost ready to make its public debut.

There are a whole bunch of new features and improvements to look forward to in this update, including an overhauled Photos app, enhanced Siri, and the new Apple File System.

Everything we expect Apple to unveil at its September 12 event

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Tim Cook was short on surprises at the 'Hello Again' keynote.
What will Tim surprise us with this time?
Photo: Apple

The biggest Apple keynote of 2017 is just a few short hours away. And according to the rumors, its going to be one of the most memorable tech events in years.

When Tim Cook and Co. take the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater on September 12, we expect them to unveil not one, not two, but three new iPhones. A bunch of other new hardware and software is also on the docket, making this an Apple keynote not to be missed.

Here’s everything Apple will likely reveal.

How to convert currency from your lock screen

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currency conversion iOS
Spotlight might be the quickest way to convert currency on iOS.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Traveling? You need a currency conversion app then, right? No! If you’re carrying your iPhone, you can do those conversions quickly, using Spotlight, without even unlocking your iPhone. Better still, you can do those currency conversions while offline, which might be essential when you’re roaming in a foreign land.

Instantly upgrade your security, privacy and productivity [Week’s Best Deals]

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collage-2017-04-18
Protect your online life with a VPN, guard your privacy with a second phone number, and lots more.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Welcome to the new week, same as the last week. Except of course for the great deals in the Cult of Mac Store. This go around, our very best deals include a lifetime of VPN protection, comprehensive training in Microsoft Excel, a powerful alternative to Search and Spotlight, and an anonymous second phone line perfect for first dates or Craigslist deals. Everything is discounted by more than half, read on for more details:

Spotlight has nothing on this desktop search app [Deals]

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CoM - HoudahSpot 4- Family License-1
When Search or Spotlight don't cut it, this powerful desktop app digs deeper.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Apple’s built-in Search and Spotlight features can be super-handy when you’re trying to quickly find a file. But sometimes they just don’t cut it, leaving you unable to make sense of your tangle of files and folders to find what you need.

Many who work with digital media, and utilize deep and complex asset libraries, encounter this problem. At times like these, you’ll want an app like HoudahSpot. It’s a powerful search tool that uses an array of high-power tools and techniques to find the files you’re looking for, time and time again. And right now you can get HoudahSpot 4 for just $19 at Cult of Mac Deals.

How to disable location suggestions in macOS Sierra

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Location Based Suggestions
Here's what to do if you don't want localized suggestions.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Much like Google offers personalized searching, macOS Sierra delivers location-based tips as part of its suggestions within Spotlight, Siri, Safari and Maps. That means Apple will try to recommend relevant services within your immediate vicinity.

If you don’t want this feature, however, there is a way to get rid of it. Check out our guide below to show how to do this — and how to turn it back on again if you change your mind.

This emoji iOS trick will change the way you search

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Yes, you can use emoji on iPhone search.
Yes, you can use emoji on iPhone search.
Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

Emoji have rapidly changed the way we conversate in the digital age and now thanks to a new feature in iOS, they’re about to change the way we search too.

iPhone and iPad users can now use emoji as search terms in the iOS spotlight feature that’s accessible on any home screen by swiping down.

The feature is actually super-useful, though it doesn’t work with all emoji. Looking for a place to have a beer with a buddy? All you have to do is tap the beer emoji icon and Spotlight will bring up suggestions for drinking holes that you can open in Apple Maps.

Here are some of the emoji you can use for search:

Skip the calculator and use iOS Spotlight for all your math needs

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Put a spotlight on your math facts.
Put a spotlight on your math facts.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

If you’ve got a quick bit of math to figure out on the go, why bother tapping into the Calculator app, which you’ve probably got stuffed in some sort of folder on your third page or so?

Even though we’ve been using Spotlight on the Mac for years now to figure out quick mathematical facts, it’s also included in the iOS version of Spotlight, making doing quick bits of math super easy.

Here’s how to use it.