When we first talked about Flashlight, it was still in beta. Even then, it was a promising way to enhance Spotlight in OS X Yosemite with more search results. Now, the app is much more mature and with a bunch of plugins, it's incredibly powerful. Let's take a look at how to set it up and find some of the most useful plugins.
What Is Flashlight?
Flashlight is a pretty simple app on the surface: It allows you to add custom search plugins to the built-in Spotlight search in Yosemite. In a lot of ways, it works similarly to the free version of Alfred, but since it works with Spotlight instead of in place of it, you still get all the benefits of Spotlight search, including incredibly fast results and native search functions.
However, the crux of Flashlight is its plugins. You can download and install Flashlight in just a couple of clicks, but if you really want to make it useful you need to find the right plugins and learn how to use them.
You can install new plugins in three different ways. You can go to the Flashlight site and search them out and install them from there. You can also just open up the Flashlight app to search through the approved plugins. If you want, you can also manually install plugins by dragging the .BUNDLE file into
~/user/Library/FlashlightPlugins. You can also easily make your own plugins if you know basic Python.
You have a lot of plugins to choose from, so let's take a look at some of our favourites.
Shutdown, Restart Or Sleep Your Mac
Shutdown does pretty much what you'd expect. You can type "shutdown" "restart" "logout" "sleep" "lock" or "screen saver" into Spotlight to trigger any of those commands. It's not exactly difficult to pull up a menu for those options, but it's nice having them accessible from the keyboard.
Compose An iMessage
iMessage is a plugin that allows you to quickly compose an iMessage from Spotlight. Just type in "text [person], [your message]". Make sure you include the comma in there, otherwise it won't know where the name stops and the message begins.
Search For A Specific Emoji Or Unicode
Emoji Search and Unicode Search both make searching for Unicode or Emoji a lot easier than doing so in the character menu. Just type in either "emoji [query]" or "unicode [query]" and when the result you want pops up, tap Enter to copy it to the clipboard.
Send An Email
Much like the aforementioned iMessage plugin, the Send Email plugin lets you quickly compose an email from Spotlight. You can type in "send an email to [name] saying [your message]" or "send an email to [email address] with the subject [your subject] saying [your message]."
Get A Four-Day Weather Forecast
As the name suggests, Weather displays the weather forecast in Spotlight. Just type in "weather [city name]" to get the four day forecast.
Add An Item To Your Reminders
Remind Me allows you to easily add a to-do to the Reminders app by just typing in the same thing you'd type in Reminders. You can type things like "remind me to go to lunch with Bob at 11:30 am on January 11" or "remind me to eat dinner tomorrow at five".
Google Search displays the results of a Google Search in Spotlight, which is a lot handier than Spotlight's built-in options. Just type in "Google [query]" or even just "g [query]" to search for whatever you want. If that's not enough, you can also grab plugins for searching Google Maps, Google Images, or Google Translate. Click on any result to open it in your default browser.
Run A Terminal Command
Terminal allows you to run a command in Terminal from Spotlight. Just type in whatever command you want and Terminal will open up and run that command.