Patterns in the Find Bar

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Lion (10.7)' started by bridgeyman, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. bridgeyman, Jul 20, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011

    bridgeyman macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2008
    Here is a cool feature I wanted to share!

    The new find bar in Lion is very powerful. Check it out in TextEdit. It supports pattern tokens to search for complex expressions (like an email address, or a number) or characters that are difficult to type (like tab or line break). Using them with the replace feature allows you to easily reformat data.

    To access the patterns, click on the magnifying glass on the text field, and then choose "Insert Pattern". The keyboard shortcut is useful here.


    Here you can insert tokens for characters that were hard to search for before, like a tab or a line break.


    What is more useful are the smarter tokens. Enter the "Email Address" token, and it will match text that looks like an email address. With the building block tokens you can create some neat expression. Here I have a list of names.

    1. Ted J. Rozar
    2. Julio Scriven
    3. Eve Gongora
    4. Nelson Gerhard
    5. Max K. Becerril
    6. Javier Duguay
    7. Jessie Fedele
    8. Trimarchi Colin Kai
    9. Neva Gunderman
    10. Gay Linley
    11. Javier James Seto
    12. Maricela Langan
    13. Katherine Soo
    14. Lonnie Glimmer
    15. Carmella Liebold
    16. Tyrone L. Perino
    17. Carlene Stalky
    18. Kurt Georges
    19. Kenya Lion Willits
    20. Clare Tome

    Some of them have middle names, some have middle initials. Some have three spaces after the number, some have one. The following pattern matches a line of these names:


    The expression is (Digits).(whitespace)(Any Characters)(whitespace)(Word Characters)(Line Break)

    The (any characters) matches the first name, and even will match the middle name. The (word characters) surrounded by white space and a line break can only match the last name.

    Notice that many of them are different colors. This is so you recognize each token, and use it in replace! If you have more than one of the same type of pattern they will be numbered, like the white space characters in this example. Say we want to rearrange this list so it looks like this:
    1: Lastname, Firstname Middle
    (Notice the tab after the number).

    I check "replace" to enable the replace field. Now when I insert tokens, I can choose from tokens that are already in the find field. Here is an expression I made:


    Notice that is uses most of the same tokens, but in different order. The colors are the same. Now you can replace each line individually, or just hit replace all and your data will be reformatted!

    Here is the data after reformatting:
    1: Rozar, Ted J.
    2: Scriven, Julio
    3: Gongora, Eve
    4: Gerhard, Nelson
    5: Becerril, Max K.
    6: Duguay, Javier
    7: Fedele, Jessie
    8: Kai, Trimarchi Colin
    9: Gunderman, Neva
    10: Linley, Gay
    11: Seto, Javier James
    12: Langan, Maricela
    13: Soo, Katherine
    14: Glimmer, Lonnie
    15: Liebold, Carmella
    16: Perino, Tyrone L.
    17: Stalky, Carlene
    18: Georges, Kurt
    19: Willits, Kenya Lion
    20: Tome, Clare

    I hope this is useful for people! Try out this example. What do you think? When developers adopt the new Cocoa find bar, this advanced searching comes for free. Hopefully it will be all over the OS soon, not just in TextEdit.

    - Bridger Maxwell
  2. roocker macrumors newbie

    Nov 29, 2008
    sweet. Thanks a lot! Haven't thought it was that useful!
  3. bridgeyman thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2008
  4. gregmaletic macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2011
    > The new find bar in Lion is very powerful.

    By "find bar", do you mean the find field in a Finder window? If so, mine doesn't look like the one you picture. There's no little down-arrow, so no pop-up appears when I click on the magnifying glass.

    What am I missing?

  5. guitargoddsjm macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2008
    I'm wondering the same thing...
  6. HawaiiMacAddict macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2006
    On one of my Macs of course
    It kind of looks like the bar you get in Safari when you press Cmd-F.

    I'll check to see what I can find.
  7. tkermit macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2004
    Look for it in TextEdit. It's really pretty awesome. Thanks, Bridger!
  8. bridgeyman, Jul 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011

    bridgeyman thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2008
    Woops, I did forget to say this example was in TextEdit. However, this functionality is now provided in the Cocoa framework, so developers can very easily add it to their own apps, thanks to the work of kpua.

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