How to Make Quick English-Metric Conversions Using macOS Spotlight

1 minute read
| Quick Tip

I’ve got a great tip for anyone who ever needs to do a Metric conversion—it’s easy to do right from Spotlight on your Mac. In my experience, Spotlight is largely ignored by many Mac users. It’s a very useful tool, however, and this tip is a great example of that.

All demos were done in macOS High Sierra, but will work similarly in recent versions of macOS.

macOS Spotlight

To invoke Spotlight, type the Command Key and your spacebar. You can also click the magnifying glass in your menu bar, but I recommend making Command-Space one of your regular keyboard shortcuts.

Once you invoke Spotlight, you’ll have this appear on your screen:

Spotlight Search Bar

You can use Spotlight to search your Mac and to search for info on the Internet—but you can also do some conversions. Let’s look at that.

English-to-Metric Conversions Using macOS Spotlight

When I say English-to-metric conversions, I mean figuring out how many kilometers are in 5 miles (or vice versa). To make that conversion, you can simply type something like 5 miles and Spotlight will do the rest. Like this:

Converting miles into kilometers using macOS Spotlight

Or pounds into kilograms, like this:

Converting pounds into kilograms using macOS Spotlight

Or one I use all the time, converting temperatures in Fahrenheit into Celsius

Converting Fahrenheit into Celsius using macOS Spotlight

Or maybe inches into centimeters:

Converting inches into centimeters using macOS Spotlight

Note that in this one, I had to add “in centimeters” to get my conversion. When just typing “6 inches,” I got information on feet, yards, meters, and millimeters. But that makes it a great time to note that you can use regular English expressions to further modify your conversion. For instance, add “in Kelvin” to “100 F” get your Fahrenheit to Kelvin conversion. Same with liters, milliliters, grams, or any other specific conversion.

And to repeat, you can all of these conversions in reverse. Kilometers to miles, kilograms to pounds, etc.

This is a great tool, and it’s built right into your Mac. Make it your friend!

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stanbh

I found out you don’t have to type quite so much to get those measurement values. Instead of Kelvin, for example, just type K. Centimeters can be just cm, so “in centimeters” (which you didn’t really use) doesn’t have to be so laborious or time consuming. It even takes BTUs.

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Frank V

You can do the same for currency conversions, just type 100 GBP and you get equivalent amount in EUR, USD, CHF, JPY and CAD.

Sorry Bryan, not for Bitcoins. 😉

Member
Jamie

That is super handy, thanks Bryan. 🙂

Member
geoduck

OK this is a very handy tip. Especially that it works in iOS Spotlight. Thanks.

Member
tcrooks3843

Works in IOS Spotlight as well.

Member
tonyp

I’m puzzled by the term ‘English’. Since America seems to be the only country in the world that doesn’t use the metric system, shouldn’t it be “American–Metric Conversion”?
Thanks for the tip, though. It will be very handy converting online recipes that have lbs and ozes.

Member
Lee Dronick

I’m puzzled by the term ‘English’. Since America seems to be the only country in the world that doesn’t use the metric system

I am guessing because we got most of the measurement system from England. I suppose we could rename it to the American, or Fun Measurement System, but whatever we call it I hope that we stick with it instead of giving in to the dark side of Metric. There is no poetry, no soul in the Metric System.

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furbies

A small nit pick ? It’s spelt “kilometre”

👌