The Power of Spotlight Search

My academic high school student has been learning to use a MacBook Air with Voiceover (VO). She was initially introduced to the layout of the screen using a tactile representation made with a Wheatly Board, which was reviewed during several lessons. Before initial instruction using Voiceover, she was also introduced to the layout of keyboard as it differs slightly from a Windows laptop keyboard. Through direct instruction and exploring the keyboard over several lessons using Keyboard Help (VO + K), the student became familiar with the keyboard layout. The student then learned how to turn Voiceover on and off (Command +F5), the terminology for the different areas of the screen and keyboard shortcuts/commands to navigate to the different parts of the screen: Desktop, Dock, Menu Bar. The student was then introduced to interacting with elements on the screen to access folders and files, as well as create files using a word processor (Pages or Microsoft Word). While it is important to for students to learn the structure of file and folders on any operating system, it is also important to provide them with alternative ways of completing the same tasks so he/she can determine which is the most efficient. Spotlight Search opened up a whole new world for my student to efficiently complete tasks using a Mac. Below is the story. 

While on a combined O&M and technology lesson, the student visited the Apple Store to receive one on one instruction to use Voiceover from an employee who was an end user, which provided the greatest learning experience for the student. During this time, the student reviewed previously learned information, was introduced to several different new skills, tips, and tricks (i.e. navigating the internet using initial letter navigation and using the Reader Mode), as well as asked questions based on what she wanted to learn.  The employee introduced my student to Spotlight Search (Command + Space) as a quick way to search for files, folders, and applications on the laptop. Within a minute, the student was independently locating and accessing files using Spotlight Search on the laptop at the Apple store. With minimal support from the end user at the Apple store, she also used Safari to complete internet searches and navigate familiar webpages about the American’s with Disabilities Act she had previously accessed with her other devices for a project. The following day at school, my student independently remembered the keyboard command to use Spotlight Search and used it to open Microsoft Word, Power Point, and Safari, as well as specific files with fewer keystrokes than navigating to the specific folder on the desktop, opening folders/files from the Doc or Finder. 

Below are the steps the student completed to use Spotlight Search

  • Launch Spotlight Search using Command + spacebar. An edit box will then appear.
  • Begin typing and a list of possible files, folders, or applications will begin to populate.
  • Use the Voiceover key (Control + Options or Caps Lock) + the up or down arrows to navigate the list of results.
  • When the result you want is selected, press Enter and the file, folder, or application will open. 




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