Use Spotlight to quickly launch applications in Mac OS X

If you use a Mac and love using keyboard shortcuts to speed up simple tasks, take the time to acquaint yourself with Spotlight. Spotlight is a search utility built into Mac OS X. In addition to searching your files, Spotlight also doubles as a very convenient application launcher.

To get started, just press + spacebar to pull up Spotlight. (Alternatively, you can click the magnifying glass icon on the menu bar in the top right corner of the screen.) You’ll see the following window on your screen:

spotlight

Simply begin typing a search term for an application installed on your computer to see results. Spotlight will search lots of things on your Mac—files, dictionary entries, etc.—but we’re specifically looking for applications, which normally appear at the top of the search results.

Typing the word safari into Spotlight search yields these results:

spotlight_2

In this example, the Safari web browser appears as the top result. Since the top result is automatically highlighted, we can simply press Enter on the keyboard to launch the program.

By default, Spotlight searches a lot of locations—including online resources, such as the Bing search engine and Spotlight Suggestions, both of which send your search queries over the web to deliver results. You can customize what Spotlight searches, as well as turn off these online features, by going to System Preferences > Spotlight.

spotlight_3

By combining one simple keyboard shortcut and the Spotlight search feature, you can launch programs and search for files incredibly quickly.

-Jesse

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