An macbook running macOS ventura on a table.
Image: Joseph Cortez/Unsplash

The Mac has long offered the Spotlight tool to help you search for files and other types of content. With macOS Ventura, Apple has spruced up Spotlight with a few new and helpful features.

SEE: iCloud vs. OneDrive: Which is best for Mac, iPad and iPhone users? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

You can now select a search result with the spacebar to see a preview of that result. You’re able to kick off a specific task or command from a search result, such as installing a software update or starting a timer. Plus, Spotlight will help you search for images by showing you a series of photos or graphics related to your search term.

How to upgrade to macOS Ventura

If you haven’t already upgraded to macOS Ventura, click the Apple icon, select About This Mac and then click the button for Software Update. Click the Upgrade Now button to install the update.

How to configure Spotlight on macOS Ventura

To first configure Spotlight, click the Apple icon and select System Settings. Then select Siri & Spotlight. In prior versions of macOS, pressing CMND+SPACE triggers a Spotlight window. In macOS Ventura, that keyboard shortcut instead triggers Siri to call on the voice assistant for help with a search. To revert CMND+SPACE shortcut to its previous functionality, click the option for Keyboard Shortcut and either turn it off or set it to something else (Figure A).

Figure A

To revert CMND+SPACE shortcut to its previous functionality, click the option for Keyboard Shortcut and either turn it off or set it to something else.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Next, scroll down the screen and review all the search results that can pop up when you use Spotlight. You can certainly uncheck any that you don’t want to appear, but you’ll likely want to leave them all enabled, at least for now (Figure B).

Figure B

Preview a search result with Quick Look.
Preview a search result with Quick Look.

To trigger Spotlight, click the search icon on the menu bar or press CMND+SPACE if you changed the behavior of the shortcut in System Settings. In the Spotlight Search field, type a word or phrase to kick off your search.

Depending on the term, the search results may include web pages, images, apps and files, as well as emails, messages, calendar appointments and contacts. With many of these content types, you can preview the search result in a separate window via the Mac’s Quick Look option.

Select a specific result and press the spacebar. If the result can’t be previewed, your Mac will indicate this with the familiar “boop” sound. If the result is able to be previewed, a Quick Look preview window pops up with more information or details on that item. You can open the resulting item in its associated application or close its preview window (Figure C).

Figure C

Run a specific task.
Run a specific task.

Next, a search result for an action or task in macOS Ventura can take you directly to that item. In the Spotlight Search field, type a word or term for a task you want to accomplish in the OS, such as adding a user account or updating the software. Type “add user account” or “software update.” Click the search result with the System Settings icon in front of it, and you’ll be taken to that specific setting where you can activate it or change it (Figure D).

Figure D

Search for images.
Search for images.

With Spotlight, you can look for images related to your search term, both on the web and on your computer. In the search field, type a word or phrase that lends itself to images. Scroll down through the search results to see web images and images from apps. Double-click an image to view it in a preview window (Figure E).

Figure E

Get rich results.
Get rich results.

Finally, you can find rich results for such items as actors, musicians, movies, TV shows, businesses and sports. Such results dig up a wealth of details on your search term without you having to hunt around on your Mac or on the web. To try this, enter a name for one of the supported topics. The result you want should be the first one on the list. Click that one to see the rich variety of information available (Figure F).

Figure F

Click the result to see the rich variety of information available.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Discover more about the macOS Ventura with this comprehensive cheat sheet and a tutorial on how to edit or unsend text messages on your Mac.