version 2.0


ChemSpotlight is a Spotlight metadata importer plugin for Mac OS X, which reads common chemical file formats using the Open Babel chemistry library. Spotlight can then index and search chemical data: molecular weights, formulas, SMILES, InChI, fingerprints, etc.

It’s probably easier to show the results from ChemSpotlight than to describe it. ChemSpotlight indexes chemistry files, adds molecular formulas (complete with subscripts and superscripts in the Finder), molecular weight, and a variety of other information for Spotlight searches and “Get Info” windows.

Version 2.0 is updated to include a QuickLook preview, including live freely-rotatable 3D views of your molecules and 2D views of ChemDraw and MDL molfile formats, thanks to the ChemDoodle WebComponents.


After downloading, ChemSpotlight is provided as an Installer package.  Once installed, Spotlight is requested to re-index any chemical file at the earliest opportunity. You may notice your disk usage increase. If you have a lot of files, this may take anywhere from a few minutes, to several hours since processing occurs in the background.

In some cases, it may be necessary to log off or restart your computer to get ChemSpotlight to “take” in Finder windows.


ChemSpotlight is created by Geoffrey Hutchison.

Thanks to Henry Rzepa, Chris Swain, Simon Saubern, Fredrik Wallner, and Bill Day for debugging help and suggestions.

Legal Stuff

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation version 2 of the License.

All source code for ChemSpotlight is available through GitHub. The ChemLook preview component is available separately.

Copyright © 2005-2011 by Geoffrey Hutchison

About ChemSpotlight

ChemSpotlight is a plugin for
Mac OS X 10.5 and later, which reads common chemical formats and provides searching and preview in the Finder.