Reenabling Spotlight Menu Search in Maya 2014

If you are primarily an OS X user, you may rely on the keyboard shortcut for accessing the Help menu’s search field (Cmd-Shift-?). As someone who is accustomed to doing lots of (lazy, IDE-assisted) typing, it is by far the fastest way for me to get to menu items in all Mac apps, without setting up all sorts of exotic keyboard shortcuts that put my hands through gymnastic routines. It also has the benefit that I never need to learn menu structures or navigate to deep items.

As a testament to how much time I’ve been spending in Maya lately, I unfortunately only noticed today that this feature no longer exists in Maya 2014! Sean Donnelly at Autodesk helpfully explained the problem. In short, because the operating system automatically takes control of menus called “Help”, they were unable to get some of the new UI features to work with it (e.g., the super helpful “What’s New” highlighting scheme they’ve added). Consequently, the help menu label in Maya is now “Help “. If you want to get the spotlight search back, there are a number of ways you can approach the problem, but I found it easiest to add a dummy menu with the following simple snippet in my

import sys
import maya.cmds as cmds
import maya.mel as mel
import maya.utils as utils
if mel.eval('getApplicationVersionAsFloat') >= 2014 and sys.platform == 'darwin':
    deferred_command = \
    parent=mel.eval('$gMainWindow = $gMainWindow;'),

5 thoughts on “Reenabling Spotlight Menu Search in Maya 2014”

  1. Hey,
    Thanks for addressing this issue.
    I copied the code to the, but it looks the same. The spotlight isn’t enabled.
    I’m on Mavericks OSX. Can that be the reason, or am I missing a step?


  2. Hey there! What happens if you just try to execute the command string (i.e., the part inside of deferred_command) in the script editor after Maya has launched?

  3. Hi there.

    I’m having the same issue. Missing the spotlight a lot!!

    O tried the command in the script editor, and it gave me this error: line1: unexpectet ident

    This is what I tried:
    parent=mel.eval(‘$gMainWindow = $gMainWindow;’),

    Thanks a lot.

  4. Hey Miguel,

    I updated the tabbing in the example in the post. Try that and let me know if it works! (It had been working as it was in my deployment because my userSetup was concatenating the command string to an existing one that had a tabbed-in context.)

  5. Darn interesting stuff you got here.

    I actually tried to create a Maya command find when typing some versions ago on Windows. Unfortunately it was blocked through a couple reasons one being some of the menus are build on demand when you expand a submenu or just click the main menu item. Another one: being unable to fetch the commands from the menuItems. When you click around in the menus the item count goes WAY up! I can’t really imagine that this is different on osx. Although I’d love to have this like in blender :/

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