Two OS X Mountain Lion Tips

I’m using the following handy tricks to make my iMac running Mountain Lion do cool things.

1) Define a keyboard shortcut to launch launchpad

Go to Control Center, Keyboard Shortcuts “Launchpad & Dock” — check “Show Launchpad” and make sure the zone where you enter a key combo is active. I chose “Control-esc” — With this sequence activated, I hit “Control-exc” then start typing the name of the program I want to run and when it it the only thing showing on Launchpad (usually after just a few keystrokes) I hit enter. Who needs a doc?

Control Panel for Keyboard and Keyboard Shortcuts showing the "Show Launchpad" setting turned on and set to Control-Escape"

Control Panel for Keyboard and Keyboard Shortcuts showing the “Show Launchpad” setting turned on and set to Control-Escape”

2) Making Spotlight Work Right

This is one of those Apple things where an amazing tool is available but the real powerful way to use it are hidden and not indicated by anything. So you go to the internet and ask “why does this not do what I want it do to” and the Appple-Symps say “If you want your computer to do that just use Windows” or “You are using a Mac, get used to it” or “I’m sure there’s a way to do that but why would you want to???”

Spotlight searches for stuff and organizes the results, which are very quickly obtained because everything is indexed already, into organized sublists. Like this:

iMac Mountain Lion Spotlight

iMac Mountain Lion Spotlight

The thing is, if you click on one of these items it opens, and if you hover over it you get a preview, but there is absolutely no way to do anything else. It seems. A good number of times I want to see where the damn thing is in my file system. There is no apparent way to do that using Spotlight! Or anything else!

But there is. It just isn’t obvious.

So, this tip is to find where an item that is showing in Spotlight in Finder by making a Finder window open for a certain item. It’s simple:

Highlight the item and hit Command-Enter. A finder window will open with the thing that was highlighted in Spotlight highlighted in the Finder Window IF it is a file or folder. If it is an email message it will open the email message.

That makes Spotlight useful.

It is interesting that some of the most up to date, advanced, and coolest computer tricks such as using spotlight are really command line or keyboard only functions. Just sayin’

And just to make that be totally true, I’ll note that Command-spacebar brings you to the spotlight thingie where you can start typing, and arrow keys let you move up and down the list.


  1. #1 Fran
    August 9, 2013

    If I’m in Spotlight I don’t need to press control, it opens in Finder if I hit enter. Control does nothing. I wonder why it’s different for you.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    August 9, 2013

    Ah, good question!

    The thing you are on opens with Enter. If it is a folder, the folder opens in Finder, if it is a file, Finder tries to open it in the default app. But if you only want the finder (to find the thing) than ctrl-enter opens the finder even if you have selected a file.

  3. #3 Fran
    August 9, 2013

    Oh I see. I have to use command enter though, rather than control enter. It also shows a folder in it’s parent folder, same principle I guess. Handy to know.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    August 9, 2013

    Oops. You are right, Command Enter. I’m not a native Mac user so I get confused on command/control/option.