OS X: Use Spotlight for Contact Searches

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Spotlight’s been around long enough now that it’s become a bit overlooked, in my opinion, despite the fact that it’s as awesome as all get-out. I use it all of the time as an application launcher, a calculator, a dictionary, and even as a way to start playing songs in my iTunes library.




One of the Spotlight features I find most useful, though, is the ability to search for and jump right to a person’s card in my Contacts program, which is far faster than opening the application first and then searching. So here’s what you’ll do to try this out. Start by bringing up Spotlight using its Command-Spacebar keyboard shortcut. (I think that if you only learn a single shortcut on your Mac, that would be the one to know.) 

Once Spotlight’s open, start typing in a contact’s name. Assuming that person has an entry in your contacts list, you’ll see his name appear next to what looks like a small Rolodex icon. 

Heh. Rolodex. Way cool, retro, and groovy, man!

Click on that result (or just press Return if it’s your Top Hit), and the Contacts program will open and take you right to that individual’s info. Neat! Also, if you’re like me and you find that you always want contact info to be prioritized in Spotlight when you type in someone’s name, visit System Preferences> Spotlight, click on the “Search Results” tab, and then drag “Contacts” up to the top. Within that pane, you can deselect anything you don’t want showing up in Spotlight’s results, as well.

With that change, I more often get contacts to be my Top Hit, so finding a person's info becomes a few short keystrokes: Command-Spacebar, some letters of the name, and then Return to open the first result. As easy as taking candy from a baby!

Hey, speaking of which—I'd enjoy some candy right now, and I know a few babies. So I'll see you guys later!

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I agree completely Melissa, Spotlight is the best part of OS X and is criminally overlooked.  It’s so powerful yet so easy that even computer scaredy-cats can quickly adopt it (I know because I’ve taught a few).  These new uses of it though that you and the rest of Mac Observer have been highlighting make it even better, so thanks for sharing.  Now time to queue up some Dark Side of the Moon for my afternoon listening.


Yeah, I’m one of those guys who has Spotlight disabled.  It’s failed me too many times when searching for files, when a simple filename search would have found what I was looking for.  I also don’t like the metadata index, both in terms of maintenance and use of storage space.

It may not be quite as instantaneous, and it may require another app to be able to launch it via hotkey, but in my experience, EasyFind is better at actually finding files.  Plus, I dig the squirrel with the magnifying glass.  Haha.

I also don’t mind compartmentalizing my tasks across different apps.  In some ways, I kinda prefer it.  The downside to disabling Spotlight is that now I am unable to search through emails.

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