Improve your Spotlight searches with search operators

Jan 6, 2010 - 8 Comments

apple spotlight operators If you know the file type of a document you are looking for, you can pre-qualify search results by using operators within Spotlight. As you can see in the screenshot, I pre-qualified my search for ‘asia’ with the PDF filetype operator, which led Spotlight to only search PDF documents for the search term. You can even use date sensitive search operators, to search for files created or edited between, before, after, or on specific dates! This makes finding things even faster and more precise, so try them out yourself. Here’s a few example operators to enter before your search query:

Spotlight Search Operators

Note that all of these search operators are used in Spotlight in the following syntax format:
kind:audio Rolling










Advanced Spotlight Search Operators

date:>10/1/09 will find any file modified after November 1, 2009, note that the dates you enter must correspond to the short date format you have set in your International preferences

date:<12/31/09 will find any file modified before December 31, 2009

date:1/1/06-12/31/09 will find files modified between the two specified dates. Example syntax is:
date:1/1/06-12/31/09 contract

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Posted by: Bill Ellis in How to, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Nice set of tips. November is the 11th month, however. ;o)

  2. Gnuut says:

    Fabulous – Apple has managed to convert Spotlight into a command-line utility. Yuck!

  3. [...] you’re interested, learn how to greatly improve Spotlight searches with search operators, you will be amazed how precise you can get your Spotlight searches to [...]

  4. [...] a whole post on search operators within Spotlight if you’re [...]

  5. [...] familiar with Smart Folders, they essentially let you create a virtual folder that uses search operators from Spotlight to let that virtual folder contain any and all files that match the search [...]

  6. Rick Penner says:

    Thank you; it’s very helpful to find information like this, which isn’t officially “manualized.” It would be especially helpful (and most likely profitable) to publish some manuals, at different levels (e.g., some people just want to get their email and be done, while others are really interested in how the system works, and how things are implemented, so they can make he most of the computing power they have available. Anyway, your work here was most useful!

  7. [...] forget that you can use search operators to improve results by looking only for specified file types or dates, and more. We have plenty more [...]

  8. A Dymoke-Bradshaw says:

    Where are the NOT, AND, NOR, XOR … operators?

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