How to Search Within .zip Files in Spotlight

This brief tutorial will walk you through the steps involved in installing and using/understanding Ziplight, a plugin that enables Spotlight to search within .zip files.

Please note: Ziplight is no longer in development. In addition, it’s a 32-bit app and will not work in macOS 10.15 or later. With that said, the software is still available for download, and does still work in versions of macOS earlier than 10.15.

  1. Download and open Ziplight. Inside the .dmg you should see a file named Ziplight.mdimporter.
  2. ziplights dmg contents
    click to enlarge

  3. Drag that file to your /Library/Spotlight folder if you want all users to be able to use this plugin, or ~/Library/Spotlight if you want only your account to be able to use it.
  4. finder in OS X showing the Spotlight folder
    click to enlarge

  5. To enable the plugin, you’ll need to either log out of your Mac and log back in again, or reboot.

    Now you have to wait a while as Spotlight updates its database. Eventually (after about 30 minutes for me) when you perform a Spotlight search, files inside of .zip files will begin to appear in your search results. NOTE: Ziplight won’t enable Spotlight to index the actual contents of the files inside of .zips, just the titles of the files inside .zips.

  6. a Spotlight search in OS X

  7. As illustrated in the screenshot above, I performed a search for the word “setlists” in Spotlight. One of the results was a zip file titled sl.zip. Opening sl.zip reveals that a number of the files contained the word “setlists”.
  8. Finder
    click to enlarge


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