Microsoft Testing New MacOS Spotlight-like Search UI for Windows 10

Posted on November 21, 2017 by Mehedi Hassan in Cloud, Windows, Windows 10 with 38 Comments

Microsoft is testing a major redesign of Cortana/search in Windows 10. The company quietly added a secret feature to the operating system with the release of Windows 10 Redstone 4 build 17040.

The new immersive search UI is a lot like macOS’ Spotlight which is arguably one of the best features of Apple’s Mac devices. The new search UI for Windows 10 is very similar to Apple’s implementation, and it’s accessible via the Win + S shortcut, reports Italian blog, Aggiornamenti Lumia.

The feature opens a search dialog in the middle of your screen, and you can search for files, pictures, settings, apps on your device from there. As the feature is powered by Cortana search, it also lets you search the web via Bing which means you can hunt for websites, pictures, and videos online as well. You can also trigger Cortana commands from within the new immersive search experience, but that opens up the classic Cortana UI on the taskbar.

Microsoft’s Spotlight clone seems quite promising at this point in time. The feature is almost exactly like Cortana search in Windows 10 right now, but the new design makes searching for things much easier and more intuitive. It doesn’t do much more than Cortana right now, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Microsoft expands its capabilities over time. The company is still in the early stages of development for Windows 10 Redstone 4, which is set to be released early next year. Windows Insiders can, however, try this feature out right away with a simple registry edit on the latest Redstone 4 build:

  • Open “regedit” via Run (Win + R)
  • Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search\Flighting
  • Create a new “Override” value on the Flighting folder from the sidebar
  • On the new Override value, create a new DWORD with the name ImmersiveSearch and set the value to 1
  • Restart your device to get the new immersive search experience, available with Win + S

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Comments (38)

38 responses to “Microsoft Testing New MacOS Spotlight-like Search UI for Windows 10”

  1. Brad Sams

    I like this a of the few things i miss from OS X was spotlight search.

  2. Win74ever

    Cortana is useless. Search on Windows 10 is useless. This bar looks like Aero Glass. Windows 10 UI remains clueless.

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  4. Matthew Simpson

    Wow... as much as I hate to throw off the whole "discussion" by injecting some relevant content... You don't actually have to restart Windows after making the registry change. Killing explorer.exe and running it again will do the trick. I like the the feature so far...

    But for those of you that don't like the way Windows search works, please feel free to buy a Mac, or install Linux... and may God have mercy upon your souls.

  5. SvenJ

    Seems like Cortana search in an 'acrylic' window that covers a different part of my screen than it does now. So?

  6. straker135

    Tried this on my 17040 Build and nada. Still get the same old 'Start' search pane in the bottom left-hand corner.

  7. fredrick

    Who cares, it’s still windows

  8. colin79666

    So Microsoft are Sherlocking Launchy ( I do hope they let you map it to CTRL+Space.

  9. Waethorn

    Methinks someone at Redmond re-watched the Longhorn archival footage.

  10. nbplopes

    2018 and MS is still walking circles with this for years and years :(

    Maybe now with Hadoop they can sort this one out on Windows :)

    • Waethorn

      In reply to nbplopes:

      And Big Data, and AI, and Deep Learning, and all kinds of other fake stuff that sounds good to young tech investors with lots of R&D capital burning a hole in their pocket.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to Waethorn:

        Yeah. There is a huge disconnect between what all the big 4 companies (except one) are saying in their conferences and the my actual user experience in the field as a user. Usually end up being little relatively predictable curiosities (if than else's logic).

        I wonder any company that cannot solve basic search problems in peoples's laptop across multiple local data sources including their own can really do a much reliable approach to AI.

        I just wonder.

        Its starting to be embarrassing ... But who cares, there will be another huge party soon, some other announcement probably ...

  11. Darekmeridian

    I have been using Wox ( for about a year now it's theme-able and extensible (via python) so you can search web or use it as a launcher, But it would be much cleaner with this built into the OS with Cortana support.


  12. BizTechSherpa

    I miss the Search capability in Windows 7 + Office 2010 days - I did a Windows search and it brought up documents, emails, contact records, calendar events in the search results. Typing a name brought that contact to the top of the results, fastest way to find a phone #, confirm a company name, etc. And I have so much useful data in email. Now I have to go into Outlook, go into email, and search there. Then contacts, then documents in Cortana search, etc. Lousy experience.

  13. tremblaymax

    I see this just as a redesign of existing search in Cortana, however I do agree that it looks much better like this. Hope this will end well in final release.

  14. Roncerr

    What does it do that the non-web explorer-only search does now? I have never used an Apple device.

    • rfog

      In reply to Roncerr:

      As far as I know, nothing. This is the Nth time Microsoft tries to reinvent the wheel. The same wheel.

      BTW, macOS had Spotlight more or less since first incarnations, and worked always very well, and is a reference for search engines. And at this moment (Fall Creators Update vs macOS 10.13), Spotlight is still better than star menu search box, and less confusing.

  15. maethorechannen

    You can also trigger Cortana commands from within the new immersive search experience, but that opens up the classic Cortana UI on the taskbar.

    I know it's early days, but pick one or the other.

    If anything, putting all the Cortana stuff into a floating app window would make more sense than what Cortana does now,

  16. dcdevito

    Didn't they have something like this in XP or Vista? I vaguely remember searching for stuff and opening the links in IE. I'm sure it wasn't nearly as powerful.

    • rfog

      In reply to dcdevito:

      I don't remember the exact name, despite the fact I was in the beta in my MVP old times, but was more or less in the wars for the search engines. All companies (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, ...) had their own desktop search engine, each of them worse than the other, using a lot of CPU and dramatically slowing the PC.

  17. CristianCson

    I haven't used the mac function, but it would have been nice if the article says more about how it is more like it?

    Because the only change I see is that it is in a separate window instead in the taskbar, two changes in the ui that I can see, search box on top and text tabs instead of icons.. Not a big change from todays cortana experience..