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Search and ye shall find (maybe): Apple's Spotlight needs an overhaul

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 02:00 AM

Post your comments for Search and ye shall find (maybe): Apple's Spotlight needs an overhaul here
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#2 User is offline   jscotta 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 05:14 AM

I, too, miss the old Spotlight window. However, some of that functionality has been built into Finder via the "Change the item arrangement" button on the Finder window's toolbar.

Where Apple has fallen down with Spotlight is not making it easy to string together easily found additional search criteria. This is the part of your post that I agree with most.

Perhaps Siri will improve file search, but I'm not betting on it. Siri has the same problem that Spotlight does here – the inability to easily modify and extend the command to adjust results.
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#3 User is offline   bastion 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 05:26 AM

"Most users probably aren’t even aware of this arcane search syntax; though OS X’s help does identify some of the keywords, it omits many others (for example, kind:word and kind:excel are not there)."

That would be because "kind:word" and "kind:excel" are not keywords as such. They're directives to match on files whose Finder-visible "kind" string contains the string 'word' or 'excel'. You can do "kind:" followed by essentially anything to find relevant items.

Spotlight, IMO, has two long-standing weaknesses to address.
1. The granularity of indexing is one file. There's no provision at all for a Spotlight indexing plugin to note records within a file, for something like Circus Ponies' Notebook or a FileMaker database. If you want to index records, you need to create placeholder files to represent them.
2. Only one plugin is invoked to index any particular file. Multiple may apply, but only the "best" match is actually used. That means that any particular plugin developer must take responsibility for every indexable attribute and it also means that you can't augment. For example, OS X has long supported the ability to attach arbitrary attributes to files - essentially a generic form of the original data+resource concept from 1984. So I, as a 3rd-party developer can write a utility that attaches attributes to my Pages files. But I can't write a Spotlight plugin that indexes them. Well, I can. It just won't actually be invoked by the OS.
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#4 User is offline   sfmitch 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 06:07 AM

I was really happy with Spotlight in Snow Leopard. I find it much less useful in Lion / Mountain Lion.
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#5 User is offline   MacJack 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 06:07 AM

The ability to add Spotlight Comments when saving a file with Default Folder X makes Spotlight a handier tool.
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#6 User is offline   sportyguy209 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 07:25 AM

I have never found Spotlight useful. Always manages to bring up more junk than get close to what I'm looking for. Both Spotlight and Mail's search need a lot of improvement to be useful.
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#7 User is offline   dhinostroza 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 07:26 AM

Agreed, Spotlight needs a major overhaul. Never used Tembo but diskcatalogmaker to me is the best. Fully indexing an 8TB Pegasus R4, an SSD and HDD on a MacBook Pro takes less than 8 minutes the first time. After indexing, search results pop up instantly and there's no arcane language to learn, although results will improve if you name the file "Macworld Review Spotlight iTunes" or so and leave extensions visible so you can add ".doc" to the query. The latest release of this app came out this month. Also, if you have Toast, chances are you already have the app.
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#8 User is offline   PeterJennings 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 07:58 AM

Quote

I was really happy with Spotlight in Snow Leopard. I find it much less useful in Lion / Mountain Lion.


As a Snow Leopard user, I was really happy with Spotlight in Tiger (has it been consistently regressing since it's debut?) I use it as an app launcher more than I use it for search, so maybe Snow/Leopard is the best between both worlds? :(
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#9 User is offline   Malabar 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:04 AM

"Unfortunately Apple ditched the Spotlight window with Leopard"

Try ⌘+⌥+Space.
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#10 User is offline   Malabar 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:06 AM

"Unfortunately Apple ditched the Spotlight window with Leopard"

Try ⌘+⌥+Space.
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#11 User is offline   mretondo 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:20 AM

I would like it to automatically use my filter settings. I almost always want to search for both visible and invisible files. Also I always want to search system files as well. I hate always having to make those selections. Does anyone know of a terminal command to set these defaults?
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#12 User is offline   kirkmc 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:41 AM

Quote

"Unfortunately Apple ditched the Spotlight window with Leopard" Try ⌘ ⌥ Space.


That brings up a Finder window; look at the screen shot in the article.
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#13 User is offline   alanskyone 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 10:56 AM

I use Spotlight because it's all I've got, but its performance sucks. Spotlight routinely fails to find files I know are there to be found; and like the author of this article, I usually find those files by manually searching for them. As the author also mentioned, Spotlight almost always produces an unwieldy and totally unnecessary volume of results. My worst complaint is that Spotlight insists on showing me filetypes that I have explicitly turned off in Spotlight preferences. All things considered, it is a pathetic fail in an otherwise excellent operating system.
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#14 User is offline   Kalev 

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  Posted 29 March 2013 - 11:58 AM

Quote

"Unfortunately Apple ditched the Spotlight window with Leopard" Try ⌘ ⌥ Space. That brings up a Finder window; look at the screen shot in the article.


It looks like a Finder window but searches in it do not produce the same results. For one thing, the ⌘ ⌥ Space search includes "Spotlight items" such as Calendar events. These do not appear in a generic Finder search (unless you add that specific search criteria).
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