Drag & Drop from Spotlight in Mac OS X

Apr 6, 2012 - 6 Comments

Spotlight search in OS X

You can drag and drop files directly from Spotlight to elsewhere in the OS X Finder. This allows Spotlight search to function as a sort of basic file manager, not quite like the Finder, but at least for quickly locating and moving a document of any type on the Mac.

To see how the interactive Spotlight file manipulation function works yourself, just do the following:

  1. From OS X, hit Command+Space to bring about Spotlight and search for something that is a file
  2. Now click and hold on the item while dragging it out of the Spotlight menu, drag it into a folder, the desktop, an email, etc

Default behavior moves the file from its source location to the new destination, but if you hold own the Option key during the process you can make a copy of the file instead.

Drag and drop from Spotlight

Just as other things in the OS X Finder, you can undo the location change of a file by choosing to hit Command+Z.

This can be much faster than digging around in the file system to locate a document or folder manually, especially with files buried far within subfolders.

Do note that a somewhat modern version of OS X is required to use drag and drop in Spotlight, you’ll find the function in anything beyond Lion, including Mavericks and Yosemite, and presumably onward.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Michael says:

    I just wish Spotlight had an option to show the path when hovering over the files…

  2. Apprentice says:

    Yes, it can show you the file location when your mouse cursor hovers above an item with Command+Option pressed.

  3. Blaine says:

    Right/Option+click > Reveal in Finder would be ‘great’ too! Or does Cmd+R work?

  4. Rick says:

    Please note: “it’s” is the contraction of “it is.” It is NOT the possessive form of it (like “his,” “her”). Thus, one doesn’t write “it’s book” when meaning “the book belonging to it.” One writes, “its book.”

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