Disappointed by Spotlight...

Discussion in 'macOS' started by OldCorpse, Jan 27, 2006.

  1. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #1
    Am I alone? I read a lot of hype about Spotlight, and I was really lookig forward to using it... but as time has gone by, I find Spotlight is pretty much useless to me. First and foremost: IT JUST DOESN'T WORK! I can't tell you how many times I've typed a searchterm in, and I know the file/document/word is there, but Spotlight fails to find it. Just today, I was searching for the cache files in Safari, and Spotlight returns 4 instances of useless files, nothing to do with caches. And there are hundreds of cache files on my computer, actually labled as such, and there is a whole folder in Library -> Caches named, yes, "Caches". A search for cache and caches is useless. And so on.

    I think Spotlight found like ONE program once, which I was looking for, and that was about it. For me, Spotlight is a big bust. Maybe I just don't know how to use it and love it - but I did read D. Pogue's 2 books on Tiger, and I did pay attention to the chapters on Spotlight. For whatever reason, it just is not for me. Luckily, I'm very organized, and I'm comfortable organizing my folders and documents, so I don't really have a need for Spotlight, which is just as well given how useless it's turning out to be.

    Am I just totally wrong here, and folks find Spotlight the best thing since sliced bread? Let's hear YOUR opinion and experiences with SPOTLIGHT --
     
  2. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #2
    I thought Spotlight's default was not to search 'system' folders which might be why it's not finding things like cache files.

    Is it any good doing something like kind:cache to try to force it to work? Have you tried it from the Finder rather than from the menu bar?

    I'm pretty organised in my file structure so I don't use it a huge amount but on the occasions that I do, it always seems to work pretty well and bring back the correct results pretty quickly.
     
  3. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #3
    I'm not dissapointed by it at all. I love it to pieces and I add comments for just about all my docs now. Any program not in the dock I launch using it. Don't even vother searching within mail anymore. Would hate to live without it.
     
  4. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #4
    As far as I know, you can't use the kind:cache mode - because "cache" is not listed as a kind. There is a limited number of "kinds": application, contact, folder, email, event, to do, image, movie, music, audio, pdf, preferences, bookmark, font, presentation - and variations on those terms, such as "app" for application, plurals such as pdf(s), image(s) etc. And that's it. Yes, I actually studied Spotlight :) ... this list is from one of D. Pogue's books.

    Anyhow, doing kind:cache gives me no useful results. And yes, I've tried it from Finder. A bust. Maybe system folders are excluded... but even so, that doesn't account for all the other times I haven't found stuff that was not in the systems folder.

    Well, so far the feedback seems to be that Spotlight is wonderful. I really wish that was true for me, but alas, Spotlight is useless in my experience.
     
  5. jwkay macrumors member

    jwkay

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    #5
    I've only had one occasion when Spotlight started to behave oddly; not returning results I knew where there etc. Rebuilding my Spotlight index cured the problem for me. Try the following in Terminal:

    sudo mdimport -f /

    Good luck!
     
  6. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #6
    So out of all the things you can do and search for with spotlight the only thing that is of any earthly use to you is searching your cache? Maybe I'm missing something but what do you search it for? How did you search it before spotlight?
     
  7. BakedBeans macrumors 68040

    BakedBeans

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    #7
    spotlight is simply awesome. I use it tons everyday
     
  8. zap2 macrumors 604

    zap2

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    #8
    i love it, use it to find App that are not in my dock.
     
  9. SiliconAddict macrumors 603

    SiliconAddict

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    #9
    Are you talking about your browsing history? Walk me through why you need to search your cache? If something is plain text it should be searchable. I'm pretty sure you CAN do this as long as you know how to use spotlight from the command line.

    My biggest gripe about Spotlight is that it's using an archaic method of storing its data. From what I've read it's simply using a plain text file to index your files. This is going to be insanely slow compared to actually using a something like SQL engine to index your files in a relational database structure. This is kinda why I think Spotlight was a rushjob. The functionality is cool but there is a lot of behind the scenes patchwork that smells rushed. My money is on Leopard migrating away from plain text files in Spotlight. Ultimately what would be cool and what Microsoft is working on with WinFS is the ability to search networks and computers on networks. So lets say you are a production manager and you want to search for everything pertaining to X project. You can use Active Directory that already knows who is on your team to search no only the servers but your user's desktops and bring back all that information. This is why WinFS is being delayed in Vista. They are shooting for something MUCH bigger then local searching. Even though local searching will be in Vista. (Sorry getting sidetracked there.) Getting back to spotlight I think that is the primary reason why they limited you to specific types of data. I'm pretty sure since the databases are plain text files it would choke on indexing all your files on your system. Read: configuration files and anything else that is plain text.
     
  10. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #10
    Spotlight + Quicksilver = LOVE
     
  11. starnox macrumors 6502

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    Apr 15, 2005
    #11
    The spotlight in the top right-hand corner of your screen does not search through every file on your computer, which is why you will not get all the files.

    If you want to search through EVERY file on your computer:

    Open finder and search using that. After you type your keywords into finder make sure 'Computer' is selected.
     
  12. alywa macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    #12
    I think spotlight is the single greatest addition to an OS ever. It has completely changed with way my wife and I use the computer. I have never had it not work perfectly.

    -alywa
     
  13. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    May 18, 2004
    #13
    i use it from time to time but dont think it's all that great. I find it returns way too many hits that really arent at all useful. For example, i type in my nephew's name which is "Chris" and I'll get lots of hits for things like "christmas" and so on (and no, it doesn't matter if I put a space after his name or not, same thing happens)....sometimes there are so many false returns that i dont even bother with spotlight
     
  14. mwpeters8182 macrumors 6502

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    #14
    I use spotlight to find documents, but nothing beats Quicksilver for applications. It might be one of the greatest programs ever made.
     
  15. ifjake macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 19, 2004
    #15
    i found Spotlight only became useful once i learned the keyboard shortcuts. cmd+enter is great. i only wish i could automatically assign "priority levels." when two different files or folders or applications are named the same or similar the one i access most often could be given "Top Hit" status. Safari's address bar works this way by itself. if i start typing in "apple.com" it'll fill out "/trailers" for me since that's the page i most often visit at Apple's website. well. i guess i'm off to give feedback.
     
  16. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    #16
    I'm with the OP. Spotlight doesn't find loads of files for me, and reindexing makes it worse (it forgets every e mail unless I select them one by one again).

    And because it doesn't find everything, it's essentially useless because that means that I'll never know if it's missing the result I need.
     
  17. DrNeroCF macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    #17
    Well, anyone who's played around with BeOS should be disappointed in Spotlight. I swear Be's search was so fast it found everything once your finger started hovering above the first key. That's not to say, though, that I think spotlight is wonderful and I use it to launch programs constantly...

    Play around with your settings...
     
  18. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #18
    Are you kidding me? Where did I say I only use Spotlight for cache searches? I gave cache searches as AN EXAMPLE of the latest debacle with unsuccessful Spotlight searches... sheesh!

    I love it when something doesn't work, and someone goes "well why do you need it in the first place". WTF??? What difference does it make WHY I need it, what matters is SPOTLIGHT AIN'T DOING IT! Most of the time, when you arrive at a car shop you don't get this exchange: "My car is not working" - "Well you can get anywhere by walking". And if you must know, there are a million reasons why you may want to look at your cache. For example, with some streaming media, the browser caches the stream, and you may want access to that cached stream etc., etc., etc., The point is I shouldn't have to justify why I need it, the point is Spotlight is not doing what it's supposed to do. You may as well say: "well, you shouldn't need spotlight, just get organized". We're discussiong spotlight remember??? Not how you can do things WITHOUT spotlight... and yes, I can access cache files through Finder, just by browsing over Library -> Caches -> Safari.

    Folks, let's get with the program - we're discussing the performance and usefulness of Spotlight, not how you can work around so you don't need Spotlight or can accomplish by other means what Spotlight is supposed to do, K? Thanks.
     
  19. zim macrumors 65816

    zim

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    #19
    i love spotlight... use it all the time :D my favorite thing to do is apple + space bar and open apps documents etc... spotlight has increased my productivity and reduced the amount of mouse work.
     
  20. SiliconAddict macrumors 603

    SiliconAddict

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    #20
    Spotlight also doesn't freaking do bittorrent searches on the freaking net or decompiles software either but I'm not going to complain about it. Damn dude chill the hell down. I just want to know the reason why you need to search your cache that is all. It wasn't designed to do that nor was google searching or Microsoft search. In both cases you have to force the software to look somewhere else.

    Spotlight first and foremost was designed to search your files inside your home folder. If it actually searched everything on your computer it could come back with all kinds of various crap when your typed in a partial string. Would you rather have the top 15 relevant things in the drop down spotlight window or would you like to go into the expanded view EVERY time you do a search. That's not to say there couldn't be some tweaking under the hood to expand its abilities.
    Seriously cool off. Ask a simple question get your freaking head severed from your body. [​IMG]
     
  21. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #21
    You are completely inaccroachable Oldcorpse. I was merely asking why you searched your cache because it's something that I've never done - I was interested that it might be something useful that I was missing out on. At least amongst that unecessary tirade there is some useful information. Thanks. I'm glad I didn't waste my time typing out an alternate method to help you and earn a facetious car analogy though......
     
  22. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #22
    OK, maybe you think I overreacted, but seriously, you think your answer was appropriate? Here's what you said:

    "So out of all the things you can do and search for with spotlight the only thing that is of any earthly use to you is searching your cache? Maybe I'm missing something but what do you search it for? How did you search it before spotlight?"

    "the only thing of any earthly use to you"?? "How did you search it before"?

    C'mon, don't play innocent. This is simply not appropriate. How was that anwer of any use to me? You merely berated me for having a the SOLE bizarre desire to search caches "of all the earthly use" which was neither accurate (it was just ONE example), nor helpful. And how I searched before is simply off the wall irrelevant. Sorry if you find the car analogy facetious, I think it is accurate - if you say you wanted to drive to Phoenix but your car broke down, the right response is not "of all the earthly places to go by car, the only place you can think of going to is Phoenix" and "how did you go there before you had a car". See? You tell me, how was your answer of any help to me? What did I learn from your answer?

    I don't want to turn this into a flamewar, and derail the thread, which should focus on the frikken Spotlight, so that's my last response wrt. this derail.
     
  23. sethypoo macrumors 68000

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    Sacramento, CA, USA
    #23
    I share OldCorpse's feelings, .Andy. In the past I've posted a help me thread only to have SiliconAddict or others say "why do you need that?" I agree with him, he shouldn't have to find a workaround for Spotlight: Spotlight should work for him.

    OldCorpse: try reindexing. I think that will help more than anything. Also, if you bought your copy of Mac OS X Tiger within the last three months, or if you have AppleCare, give Apple support a call. Better yet, go to www.apple.com/support to find a help guide.

    What happens when you create, say, a .txt file in Word (or a .doc file for that matter), save it, then Spotlight it?
     
  24. VanNess macrumors 6502a

    VanNess

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    #24
    Here is a rather technical article about Spotlight. Note the reference to Folders/Files that Spotlight does not index or search. Another Apple article here regarding where Spotlight searches (and by omission, where it doesn't).

    My experience with Spotlight so far has been terrific. 10.4.3 was a pretty substantial Spotlight overhaul that cleared up delays and lockups using Finder's implementation of Spotlight, and in general, search results are faster than ever before. One thing to bear in mind is that Apple's implementation of Spotlight was meant to be as easy and user friendly as Google is for searching the net. I was kind of on the fence for awhile regarding the omission of some system-related folders/files, but I can understand why Apple didn't include them. First, because of the relentless nature of Spotlight, it potentially overwhelms user searches with results from system files that are potentially meaningless and confusing clutter for the average user. Second, results displayed in the spotlight window (and the Finder) are "live" icons, that is, they can be dragged to other locations or trashed. Including critical system files in search results could lead users to do irreparable damage to their installation, as most average users (and even a few so-called power users) won't realize the damage they are doing until it's too late. Third, my guess is that Apple feels power users will use the terminal more often than not to work with the system, because if you're going to fool around with system files, then you must know unix, because if you don't then why would you be fooling around with files that may have unix dependencies that you don't understand. And the terminal is typically the unix user's tool of choice, not the Finder or Aqua GUI.

    So, as both a protection from users screwing up the system or applications support files, and as a way to keep searches focused on what the majority of mere mortals are usually searching for (documents, music, movies, and so forth) Spotlight works exceedingly well. Maybe someday Apple will include a special "Administrator" option in Spotlight so searches of system related files and folders can be switched on or off, but frankly, I think there are too many folks already who fool with system files and end up botching up their systems because they really don't know what they are doing, or they are just relying on something they read about or heard. In the long run, the system stuff Apple omits from Spotlight searches are things you should never need to touch in the first place.
     
  25. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #25
    On second reading of your first post, SiliconAddict, I appologize... I was still amped up by .Andy's totally inappropriate, not to mention rude and unhelpful response. I overreacted to your askign WHY I needed to access cache (which I still think is irrelevant :) .

    Re: your second post, I can't agree - if you say "Spotlight was designed to x" I can only respond, well then Spotlight was badly designed. It is supposed to be a system wide search utility. System wide - that was widely advertised. When it fails to do that, it fails overall, period. Bittorrent etc. is not on my computer. And networked computers/drives... actually some would love it if Spotlight did that :) ...that's not me, but I'm just sayin'... What does matter a great deal to me, is that it doesn't find all files on MY computer - now, for a system-wide search utility that's a fatal flaw. Wrt. to your point about irrelevant results - sorry, but that's ALWAYS a problem with any search utility, and the way to deal with it is not to arbitrarily exclude whole regions from the search... that's a lazy way out, and it cuts down on the usefulness of the utility - as in fact it does in my case! Bottom line, I can't agree with your broader point. I think Spotlight is a good idea. But its promise remains unfulfilled and empty. Maybe some day.
     

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