Get Exchange Rates & Convert Currency with Spotlight in Mac OS X
The Mac has long had currency conversion tools available through Calculator app and Dashboard with the Converter widget, but the latest versions of OS X have an even faster option available with Spotlight, which can provide current exchange rates and conversions on the fly.
You will need to be running at least OS X 10.10 or later to have this feature available to you from Spotlight.
Get Exchange Rate & Currency Conversions in Spotlight on Mac
- Hit Command+Spacebar to summon Spotlight as usual
- Enter the amount to convert, preceded by the appropriate currency symbol* (for example, $100 or £100)
- See the converted currency in other major currencies directly below the primary exchange
If you’re searching in USD, the first result will be in Euro, followed by the British Pound, Japanese Yen, Canadian Dollar, and Swiss Franc, though some of the responses are likely dependent on your regional settings as defined in OS X.
If you want a specific currency, simply input that instead into Spotlight, for example “1 THB to USD” or “100000 IDR to EUR”.
The currency conversions are done with Calculator app by gathering exchange rates from Yahoo, but the data is obviously aggregated into Spotlight for convenience. No more launching Calculator app, unless you want to at least.
* If you’re unfamiliar with how to type various currency symbols in OS X aside from the one shown on your native Mac keyboard, you can access many with keystrokes or through the Currency Symbol portion of the Special Character Viewer panel.
Whether you’re traveling to a region with a different monetary union, gearing up to lose money in ForEx trading, or just buying something online in a currency other than you own, knowing what it will cost you is rather important. This is simply the easiest way to quickly determine exchange rates and convert currencies on the Mac, so the next time you’re wondering, turn to Spotlight in OS X.
While this is a fantastic feature, you’ll probably not want to use Increase Contrast and Dark Mode options if you’re trying to use Spotlight in OS X 10.10.1 or 10.10.2, where for whatever reason the text in Spotlight is rendered black against a dark grey background, making it extraordinarily difficult to read. That’s almost certainly a user interface bug with Yosemite, since both of those aforementioned options generally make reading text in Yosemite easier. Presumably that will be fixed in an upcoming software update.
If your Mac is on a prior version of OS X, you can continue to use Calculator, a Dashboard widget, or perform currency conversions with the iPhone.
Spotlight conversions are not available to iOS, yet at least, but perhaps that will arrive soon in a future update. In the meantime, you can always ask Siri who will search the web for exchange rates and conversions for you.