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I tend to launch most apps using Spotlight. I can usually type just a couple of letters, and the app appears as the default choice - I can just hit enter to launch. For example, in the screenshot I typed ⌘ Command+Space, G, I. If I then press Return, Github Desktop will be launched: Example Spotlight Search with installed App as default choice

I recently installed FreeCAD, and this doesn't work. Unlike Single application not showing up in Spotlight, FreeCAD does appear in Spotlight results, it's just not the default choice, even if I type out the full name. It appears after a list of suggested web searches and some Finder hits: Example Spotlight Search for FreeCAD

I'm running Ventura 13.1 How can I fix this?

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  • Doesn't Spotlight learn? Alfred certainly does. What part of Github Desktop does IM match, anyway? Mar 12, 2023 at 3:35
  • You could always hide those two individual folders shown in your above screenshot, using Spotlight's privacy settings. Hopefully this will prompt the actual application a bit higher in the results. Also you could hide different types of items, like hide all fonts, photos, all emails, developer folders, etc.
    – AVelj
    Mar 12, 2023 at 4:02
  • @MarcWilson It hasn't learned in a couple of weeks of near-daily usage. I'm so used to apps being the top choice, I thought it was intended behavior to always prioritize apps, for ease of launching. And I corrected the text, I type GI for GithubDesktop. Sorry, switched examples while composing. Mar 12, 2023 at 4:19
  • This is a question that would resolve your problem before apple.stackexchange.com/questions/216782/… But, this feature isn't available for your macOS version (and others) as indicated here : discussions.apple.com/thread/…
    – Thinkr
    Mar 12, 2023 at 8:00
  • Try rebuilding the Spotlight indices. This might force Spotlight to reset the suggested entries and bring the desired app at the top when searched for. Another approach could be to turn off all the Spotlight categories except Applications in the Spotlight settings and use it as such for a few days so that Spotlight learns that the app is your top choice for the given search term.
    – Alper
    Mar 12, 2023 at 9:29

1 Answer 1

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Spotlight search window is not designed to be influenced / learn or programmed as a launcher when old results get bumped by new hits. You will save yourself a lot of time by using Alfred or LaunchBar for app launching specifically.

Both are light, fast, fully customizable and by design automatically learn shortcuts with repetition.

They will allow FreeCAD (and other new apps) to correctly rise on top of your search results as you choose it over higher ranked results (or make a custom shortcut override on LaunchBar side). Of course you can still use your existing spotlight for other uses or map the key shortcut to the third party app and have it manage spotlight searches for you after processing app launch shortcuts first.

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  • How is Spotlight "crippled"? Mar 12, 2023 at 15:16
  • Good question @MarcWilson - I’ve edited it to be clearer and provided a second third party app recommendation to get the OP exactly what is requested.
    – bmike
    Nov 7, 2023 at 17:22

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