Mac Shortcuts: 3 faster ways to find stuff (+ 1 way to faster math)

This is a weekly series to help you get to know your computer better by learning the shortcuts that help you move faster across or within the apps you know and love. It takes practice, but habit forming shortcut usage can add up to days worth of time savings in a year. View last week's post here.

Mac_Shortcut_of_the_Week.jpgFor the uber organized, keeping folders, adding tags, and structuring things in a way to easily find files and materials might be a habit. So often, though, I lose track of files almost immediately after I save them. If only there were an easy way to search! Well, you're in luck! This week, I'm going to give you the Mac shortcuts (or Macbook shortcuts) you need to find all the amazing information you've got stored on your computer.

Both Mac and Windows machines have really improved search over the years. Windows took some of the really nice paradigms in search, so many of these shortcuts apply to both Mac shortcuts and PC/Windows.

Mac Shortcut: Launch Apps with Spotlight Search (Command + Space bar + app name)

This Mac shortcut is a NO BRAINER. Too many people on Macs go down to the Dock to open apps or (even worse) navigate to their Applications folder in Finder. Seriously, that process takes valuable seconds of your life that you can never get back.

For frequently opened apps (Chrome, Word, Powerpoint, Slack, Spotify, what have you), Apple has done a ton of the work to figure out what you use. That's where Spotlight Search comes in. Not sure what Spotlight Search can do? Keep reading.

The most basic use is to open Spotlight Search by typing Command + Space bar, and a search box will pop open in your screen. Then you can start typing the first 2-3 letters of your favorite app... and VOILA. Hit Enter and your app is opened.

Pair that with your newly discovered app switching capabilities and you are saving minutes of your time per day that used to be used switching tabs and opening apps.

Mac Shortcut: Be a Spotlight Search expert (Command + Space bar)

Search and productivity are meant to live together, because there's just no easier way to get right to the information you need. I'll give you a side-by-side example of using folders vs. using search to illustrate what I mean. Here's me trying to grab a PactSafe logo for a data sheet using folders.

The "Folder" method:

The "Search" method:

So you be the judge: which Mac shortcut is faster? Or I'll judge for you. It's search.

How do I move fast with Spotlight search? Here are 3 tips for making Spotlight search super easy and user friendly:

  • Memorize the Mac shortcut for Spotlight Search. Press Command + Space bar to pop open the dialog for Spotlight Search.
  • Name files something logical that's easy to find. Including information about the file like where it's used, what type of file it is (logo, proposal, contract, etc.), and when it was created can help. 
  • Know your file types. It's really helpful to know what type of file you're looking for to cut through the clutter. Your file type could be PDF, Doc, PNG, JPG, or whatever else your file extension is.

It's so simple—but can save you a ton of time.

BONUS: Do math with Spotlight Search.

Did you know you can do math by typing in the numbers you want to multiply, divide, add, etc? Check out the quick video:

Mac Shortcut: Use Finder better

A lot of people use this handy little search utility inside of Finder to get to their files faster which is awesome! It's a great way to begin the discovery process of your files and refining deeper in the bowels of your folders to get to the files you need.

Here are a couple of tips to make that search even more fruitful/fast:

  • You can limit your results by file types by starting with the file type you're looking for:

  • If you have a long list of files in a folder you're looking for, you can limit your results to a specific folder:

Awesome! Pretty easy stuff here, kids. These Mac shortcuts can save you tons of clicks and scrolling.

Shortcuts and getting to use your keyboard a little bit better can have a big long-term impact on how you work. It also reduces your frustration in getting small tasks done and enhances the relationship between you and the device you use every day at your job. Use shortcuts! 

Have an idea for the next Mac shortcut you want the world to know about? Post about them in the comments and I'll cover it in subsequent week's post. :-)


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