Known as Spotlight, the feature will let users quickly find words and concepts stored on their hard drives by using technology borrowed from Apple's iTunes online music service, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
Spotlight will be part of the next version of the Macintosh operating system, called Tiger, set for release in the first half of next year, Apple chief executive Steven Jobs said Monday at a trade show.
Spotlight/Tiger is at least a year ahead of Microsoft's next version of Windows, known as Longhorn, which also will feature new search capabilities.
"We think we are years ahead of Longhorn," Jobs said. "The other guys have been talking about it and we're doing it."
Apple is "clearly going after Longhorn," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a market research company in Santa Clara, Calif. "They're putting in a lot of features that will be in Longhorn, and that's not coming out until 2006 or 2007."