I recently moved from Windows to OSX, and find it frustrating that typing Chrome, Sublime Text or Terminal in Spotlight do not allow me to open a new window, but instead takes me to an open window of the application.

There's the option of running open -n "/Applications/Google Chrome.app/" from terminal but, that defeats the purpose of Spotlight. I'm also aware of Alfred, which is not a solution for me.

Is it possible to change the behaviour of Spotlight to suit this?

  • 1
    It's not really the behaviour of Spotlight you're trying to change, it's the behaviour of OS X itself. Sending 'open' to a running Mac app is always interpreted as 'bring to front'.
    – Tetsujin
    May 9, 2015 at 10:07
  • I'm not sure I agree - clicking on an app in the dock should not start a new instance, but rather show the running app.
    – Jervelund
    May 9, 2015 at 10:18
  • 1
    I'm sure that's what I said - it will bring an already-running app to the front. Adding the -n flag is what changes the behaviour. +1s for Q & solution, though.
    – Tetsujin
    May 9, 2015 at 10:28

1 Answer 1


Found a solution using flashlight, which allows you to create custom search terms for spotlight.

  1. Install Flashlight
  2. Enter the Flashlight app
  3. Click New Plugin > Run an Automator Workflow
  4. Edit contents according to needs - mine is: Edit Flashlight plugin
  5. Click Edit Workflow
  6. Remove notification and add Run shell script
  7. Add command that fits needs - mine is: Edit automator workflow
  8. Test your command works by clicking Run in the Automator window.
  9. Close Automator and the window for the new plugin in Flashlight
  10. Searching for any of the keywords in Usage examples input to the Flashlight plugin will allow you to run the script.

Spotlight search term

  • 2
    Not valid anymore since the repo has been deprecated :( It won't work with recent macOS versions Oct 2, 2018 at 8:25

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