I have a file named Chemical Principles the quest for insight 7e by Peter Atkins.pdf but I want it to appear on Spotlight search when I look for the keyword Chemistry textbook.

Is that possible?

  • search by "Atkins" :p
    – anki
    Mar 11, 2020 at 17:53

3 Answers 3


Use Tags.

  1. Right click on the file you want
  2. Select "Tags"
  3. Type in the custom text for the tag (i.e. "Chemistry Textbook")

Now, in Spotlight, execute your search by prefacing it with tag:

tag: Chemistry Textbook

As an example, I assigned a sample text file (Chemistry.txt) the tag "Chemistry Textbook". Upon doing a Spotlight search, it found it immediately.

enter image description here

You can find more information on how to fully use Tags from the Apple Support Document: OS X: Tags help you organize your files


As a followup to Allan's answer.

I added the tag "ftp" to an application which now shows up as top result when searching Spotlight for just "ftp" without preceding with "tag :" (MacOS Mojave).

I had this issue with an app instead of a specific file, namely Cyberduck which is a FTP client. I somehow have to dig my memory for the name of the application every time because my first thought is always "ftp".


Best solution I found.

  1. Right click on your file, click Make Alias on the context menu, name the alias Chemistry textbook.
  2. Search Chemistry in Spotlight, find your file and click, repeat two times or more. This makes Spotlight promote your choice for the search.

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