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I want to be able to open Spotlight and launch specific apps without touching my mouse or scroll down through lists with the arrow key. For example, I want to press Command + Spacebar (to open Spotlight), then press "ill" followed by Return/Enter to launch Adobe Illustrator. This works sometimes, but other times this will open a document which has the title of "I'll fly away." Similarly, I want the Spotlight search of "PS" to launch Adobe Photoshop, but it pulls up my "hp psc 1300 series" printer, instead.

Spotlight does seem to have some sort of learning mechanism built in. For instance, I can now type "in" to launch InDesign, but, unfortunately, my brain doesn't remember that shortcut and would prefer "id" for InDesign. This is likely because "Id" are the initials used on the app icon for InDesign. This is similar to the "Ps" in my Photoshop example above. The learning mechanism doesn't seem to be able to learn the abbreviations I associate with apps, rather, it seems to learn that if I had been in the habit of typing an entire app title, it can predict that "ph" will likely become a search for "photoshop." It seems to learn truncated portions of my search terms over time.

I realize that this is not the primary purpose of Spotlight and that there are likely other apps/services in which this may be possible, but please refrain from focusing your answer on these points.

So, again, the question is; Is there a way to make Spotlight prioritize specific apps based on user-defined search terms/shortcuts, and, if yes, how?

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Navigate to the app then in the "Get Info" window, add your desired term to the "Comments" box. Spotlight will then return that app when you type that term.

For example, 99% of the time if I start typing "Photos..", I want Photoshop and not the Photos app. So I've added "phos" to the Photoshop comments for that purpose.

It's a bit awkward, but it works.

  • This is an acceptable solution as far as I am concerned, although, I would add that in some cases it takes a bit more. For example, I added "dw" to the comments of the Dreamweaver app but then when I searched "dw" in Spotlight, it didn't even include applications as a searched category, so Dreamweaver wasn't an option. My solution was to select "Show all in Finder" at the bottom of the suggested list, at which point it did show the Applications category, so I opened Dreamweaver from there and the next time I searched "dw" in Spotlight, Dreamweaver was the top hit. – Nick Saemenes Jul 28 '16 at 21:09

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