desperately need reliable search

Discussion in 'OS X El Capitan (10.11)' started by newbph, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. newbph macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2013
    I use OpenOffice to create zillions of word processor files with the extension .odt
    Finder and/or Spotlight finds words usually, but not always, and this is not acceptable!
    I need to search everywhere in the computer for single-word strings like "Duncan" or "reincarnation" and I've done numerous tests that prove words are not being seen inside of files.
    I installed EasyFind, but it doesn't find everything either.
    I read up on a couple of other search programs, they're talking about how they do currency conversions or send email or wash the floors, or whatever - I don't care about any of that -
    Also, I read a number of instructions that are supposed to find words through the Terminal but none of them seems to work either.
    My feeling is, it can't be because they're .odt files, because I AM able to find things most of the time - but it's not dependable and I need dependable.
    As a professional writer, I need a search that will infallibly find single words in my files.
  2. JohnDS macrumors 65816

    Oct 25, 2015
    Check your Spotlight prefs to make sure nothing is excluded in the Privacy Tab.

    It is also possible that your Spotlight index is corrupted. Try rebuilding it:

    1. Open the Spotlight preferences and go to the Privacy tab. Click on the + button and add Macintosh HD (if that is the name of your drive) to the Privacy Tab.
    2. Close the System Prefs.
    3. Re-open the Spotlight prefs and use the minus button to remove MacIntosh HD from the privacy list.
    4. Close System Prefs.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 7, 2016 ---
    You could also try the freeware TextWrangler. See:

  3. Kornelis, Jul 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2016

    Kornelis macrumors member


    Dec 4, 2010
    Amsterdam, NL
    I guess the "problem" with ODF-files is that regardless of their suffixes (ODT, ODS, ODP etc), all ODF files are just ZIP archives. Inside them, the actual content is always stored in one plain text file called, unsurprisingly, content.xml. So in order to find something the system first has to decompress these files before they can be searched. I don't know if Spotlight does that for ODF-files.

    I found this to search in the contents of ODF files:

    I don't have these ODT files, I use normal unformatted simple t(e)xt files, so I can't check it.
  4. JohnDS macrumors 65816

    Oct 25, 2015
    TextWrangler, which I referred to in an earlier post, has an option in its multi-file search to "search compressed documents".
  5. NoBoMac, Jul 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2016

    NoBoMac macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2014
    I second JohnDS's suggestion to rebuild the Spotlight index.

    ADD: from memory, might be a little off, alternate to JohnDS's instructions, from Terminal:

    mdutil -E /
    I just did some tests and was able to locate ODF .odt and .ods files based on keywords entered. Enough samples to believe Spotlight is robust enough to deal with ODF documents.

    The ODF files were initially created with OpenOffice, but over the years since, edited with LibreOffice. Doubt that makes a difference.

    Oh, and: nothing special going on in my Spotlight settings (Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations are checked, along with Reminders, Calendar, Contacts, PDF, etc etc).

    ADD: with some searching, appears LibreOffice has a Spotlight plugin (actually, a mds importer):


    Judging by the name, sounds like should be one in OpenOffice as well: maybe old OO version and or bug in their importer?
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Feb 20, 2009
    In EasyFind, have you checked the option to show invisibles?

    I'd also suggest using "Find Any File", as well.
  7. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 601

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    It is not possible to search within files with FAF.
  8. CoastalOR macrumors 68000


    Jan 19, 2015
    Oregon, USA
    HoudahSpot will search for text in files (not sure about .odt files). It does have a free trial available.
  9. grahamperrin macrumors 601


    Jun 8, 2007
    HoudahSpot uses the Spotlight index so I should not expect HoudahSpot to be more reliable than Spotlight.
  10. CoastalOR macrumors 68000


    Jan 19, 2015
    Oregon, USA
    Good point. That will not work for the OP. Thanks. :)
  11. grahamperrin, Jul 10, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2016

    grahamperrin macrumors 601


    Jun 8, 2007
    Google Desktop probably indexed things without using Spotlight but it's no longer available from Google.

    A search of Stack Exchange found What are the alternatives to OS X's Spotlight? - Ask Ubuntu. I spent a few minutes considering the answers, wondering whether any of the solutions would build on Mac OS X. Tracker was interesting (related: NEPOMUK - The Social Semantic Desktop - FP6-027705) but I didn't investigate further.

    A second search of Stack Exchange, limited to Ask Different, found with a belief that DEVONthink "builds its own search index, not relying on Spotlight". I'll test DEVONthink Pro Office (on Sierra) and edit the answer. Done.
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Feb 20, 2009
    Another suggestion:
    Devonthink Personal Edition...?
  13. grahamperrin macrumors 601


    Jun 8, 2007

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