Illustration for the article How to Turn off Spotlight Search on Mac (and replace it with something better)Screenshot: Raycast (Other)

Spotlight Search is Mac’s built-in search function. It appears when you use the keyboard shortcut Command + Spacebar or when you click the search icon in the menu bar to look for a file anywhere on your computer.

As for the built-in search capabilities, Spotlight search is pretty good. It does a good job of opening applications, files, and folders. You can use it to search the web, Perform calculations and conversions, look up definitions and more.

While that’s great, there are quite a few keyboard launchers for the Mac that offer novel features, plugins, and endless customization. If you use your Mac to get your work done, or if you are a Mac power user, you’ll appreciate how these utilities help you be more productive without taking your hands off the keyboard.

These utilities can help you trigger automations, manage clipboards, expand text, perform custom searches, change system settings, and even arrange windows. But first…

How to turn off the Spotlight Search keyboard shortcut on Mac

Illustration for the article How to Turn off Spotlight Search on Mac (and replace it with something better)Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

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You don’t have to turn off Spotlight Search to replace it with a better one. You can still keep them and use them via the menu bar if necessary.

However, to take full advantage of any of these alternatives, disable the Spotlight Search keyboard shortcut (Command + Spacebar) by following these instructions:

  1. On your Mac, click the Apple Symbol in the top menu bar and select “System settings“Option. (You can also press Command + Space to open a Spotlight search and enter” Settings “for the old time.)
  2. Press the “Headlights“Icon (which looks like a blue circle with a magnifying glass), and then click the”Keyboard shortcuts”Button in the lower left corner.
  3. Make sure “Spotlight” is highlighted in the left column, then uncheck the “Show Spotlight Search”Option in the right column.

After that, if you have the command + place Keyboard shortcut, nothing happens.

Now for the exciting part: Replacing Spotlight with a better third-party app. Any app in the list below can use your default Command + Space key combination, and you can also use alternate keyboard shortcuts to use more than one of them.

Alfred has automation at its core (free or a $ 40 paid version)

Illustration for the article How to Turn off Spotlight Search on Mac (and replace it with something better)Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Alfred is available in both a free and a paid version. The free version can be viewed as a simpler, more user-friendly version of Spotlight Search. It does all the things Spotlight Search does, but better and faster. It’s especially good for finding and launching files and folders (with a separate modifier just for browsing folders).

But when you buy the Powerpack (which costs £ 29 or around $ 40), Alfred turns into an automation machine that unlocks features like clipboard history, text expansion, hotkeys, and most importantly, automation (which Alfred calls “workflows”).

You can create workflows yourself with a visual, flowchart-based builder in the app. The workflow engine lets you integrate system functions, third-party actions, and even web APIs to perform everyday tasks with a single click. But the nice thing about Alfred is that you don’t really have to do all of the work creating your own workflows – there is a thriving online community creating and sharing workflows that you can simply install on your Mac.

Raycast is designed to work on the web (free)

Illustration for the article How to Turn off Spotlight Search on Mac (and replace it with something better)Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

If tools like Alfred have been around for a decade, Raycast is a relatively new entry in the field, but one that is directly focused on the future – a future where we all spend most of our time working in a web browser .

If that sounds like you, take a look at Raycast. The app is currently in beta, but it’s developing quite quickly. Raycast has a sleek, modern user interface and covers all basic functions such as application launch, device conversion, file search and web search. The file search and web search functions are not immediately available because you must first select a search option.

Where Raycast shines is its web integration and productivity related features. Raycast integrates with Github, Asana, G Suite, Zoom, Jira, Calendar and more. This allows you to take action on connected services without ever leaving Raycast.

To work better with your Mac, Raycast also has a built-in clipboard manager and window management tool. Raycast also plans to release its own API that will allow developers to create custom integrations that will allow them to perform additional common tasks directly from Raycast. Since they’re based on a native API, these features will likely work better than community workflows in apps like Alfred.

Start bar This is how Spotlight Search should have been ($ 30, 30-day trial)

Illustration for the article How to Turn off Spotlight Search on Mac (and replace it with something better)Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

LaunchBar is like a spiritual successor to Spotlight Search. It looks great, has basic functionality, and is just lightning fast. It’s built for speed and designed for users working natively on the Mac. LaunchBar has the steepest learning curve of any three apps listed here, but once you’ve climbed it, you can just fly.

LaunchBar offers one of the best implementations of local file search and file management. It makes it easy to find, move, or copy files without ever opening the Finder.

In addition to performing search functions, LaunchBar can act as a replacement for the app switcher. After opening the LaunchBar, simply use the spacebar to switch between open apps. The shortcut feature allows you to open an app by entering a single letter (e.g. “S” for Safari).

The Instant send function you can import any file or text into LaunchBar and then decide what to do with it by choosing from the options available, including sending to a folder, app, or email contact.

Which keyboard launcher is right for you?

If you’re just getting started with keyboard launchers, start with the free version of Alfred. If your work life is integrated with web services like GitHub, Asana, and Jira, then it’s worth using Raycast as a secondary tool (you can always assign it a different keyboard shortcut).

If you want to get to work faster on the Mac (and you don’t worry about plug-ins), you can’t go wrong with LaunchBar. The combination of speed and shortcuts for finding, moving files, and editing the clipboard is the best there is.