Solving Spotlight Problems in Yosemite

I have used Spotlight frequently since it was first introduced (I think that was in Tiger). There were two features that I used consistently. The first was to find and open an app almost instantly. The second was to do math, such as adding up several figures or determining percentages. That sort of general math that I can’t do in my head. Let’s be honest here, if it takes more than 10 fingers I probably can’t do it in my head.

I’ve covered using Spotlight to open applications before.  That blog entry was published last March, preceding Yosemite, but the steps are still the same.

Since installing Yosemite the math feature in Spotlight hasn’t worked.  When I entered the equation the response was “No Results”. I assumed the feature had been removed from Yosemite. Since I haven’t grown any additional fingers I have really missed it. Yes, I can still get to the calculator, but this method is so fast and easy that I much prefer it. I finally had the chance to ask an Apple employ about the feature and discovered that the feature was still there.

I called Apple Care (800-275-2273) For help and the problem was solved in a matter of minutes. All of your applications have preferences which you probably know about. You should always set the preferences for any new applications you download.

All your applications also have another kind of preference, commonly called p-lists. When an application is acting wonky (that’s a technical term) you can often solve the problem by deleting the p-lists for that specific application and then restarting your computer, at which time new p-lists will automatically be generated.

Here is how you do it.

In Finder, select the Go menu. When it opens hold down the Option key and the Library will appear in the list. In older versions of the Mac OS, the Library will appear in the list without holding down the option key.


The Library folder is quite large, but just scroll down until you see the Preferences folder. Then look for preferences for your specific app. Any Apple app will start with the name Just scroll down until you find any that are for the app you are trying to fix. They will all be together.

spotlightplistDrag each one onto your desktop. Restart your Mac. Try to do the task you were having trouble with. For instance, I once again opened Spotlight and asked it to do a math problem. It worked perfectly.

When you get that result you should drag the p-lists you put onto your desktop into the trash and then empty your trash. If it doesn’t solve the problem, you can always put the ones on your desktop back in the Preferences folder in the Library. Doing so will retain any regular preferences you have set.

This entry was posted in Beginner Mac Tips, p-list tips, p-lists, Spotlight, Yosemite and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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