Snow Leopard and Spotlight - any better?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by bry2k, Aug 21, 2009.

  1. bry2k macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    #1
    If I had to pick one thing that is a fundamental feature of the OS, not just Mac OS but any OS, it's the ability to find files - and that functionality is all but completely broken in Leopard. Spotlight in Leopard absolutely sucks. It doesn't find files, it's slow, and there are few options for how to sort found files.

    I can't count the number of times that I have tried using it to quickly locate a file, but it can't find it, even thought it's right there on my hard drive. I manually navigate to the file, and yep, I spelled it right...there it is. But it just doesn't appear in the Spotlight results list.

    Also, the Leopard search results window really sucks. They took a rather clunky idea from Tiger (the weird show all window that isn't really a Finder window or a global floating window) and they pared it down to nothing in Leopard. You can't add view columns and sort by different things (ie, date created, date modified), and you can't do any kind of complex searching.

    Well, maybe there is a way to do those things, but it must be buried. I can't remember what it is. It's not obvious in the Spotlight GUI.

    Does Snow Leopard improve this situation at all???? :mad:

    In Leopard, using Spotlight, how would you do a search like this: Find all invisible files, except files named .DS_Store, and sort the results by date created? (without using a 3rd party app).

    -Bryan
     
  2. devburke Guest

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    #2
    That's odd, I generally find Spotlight to be very fast and reliable, and you can DEFINITELY do complex searching using this bar:

    Picture 2.png

    Unfortunately though, you're right about not being able to add more columns.

    However, I can do the search you asked about (minus the date created part). One thing that probably threw you off is that Leopard doesn't include system and hidden files in the results by default, but it is an option. I'd be happy to show you how. Here's how to do that search specifically:

    First, open up a Spotlight window and click the plus sign on the search bar:

    Picture 3.png

    Now, in the new bar that comes up, click the drop-down menu that says "Kind". What you want to select now is "File Visibility", but by default that's not listed, so select "Other". A window full of different criteria listed in alphabetical order should pop up. Find "File Invisible" and check the box for "In Menu". Now go back, and in the same drop-down menu as before, there should be an option for "File Visibility". Select it, and then on the next drop-down, select "Invisible Items".

    The first criteria of your search is now done. A little complicated, yeah, but now that you have "File Visibility" in the menu, it'll still be there next time you come back to do a search, unless you remove it again.

    Now we come to the "except files named .DS_Store" part. (EDIT: I overcomplicated this part. If you want to learn about nested logic, keep reading, but otherwise, skip down to the edit at the bottom.) You would think this would be as simple as just clicking the plus again to create another criteria and setting it to "Name" > "is not" > ".DS_Store", but unfortunately there is no "is not" option. However, it can still be done. One less obvious feature of Spotlight is the ability to use nested logic (meaning you can say "Any / All / None of the following are true" and then put certain criteria just under that branch. You can even create multiple "nests" and nests within nests. So all we have to do here is make a "None of the following are true" nest, and under it, make a "Name" > "is" > ".DS_Store" criteria. To make one of these "nests", hold the Option key and the plus sign should turn into an ellipsis (a.k.a. "..."):

    Picture 5.png

    Click the ellipsis and a "nest" should be formed. Select "None", and in the criteria under that, set it to "Name" > "is" > ".DS_Store".

    Voila.

    Should look like this:

    Picture 1.png

    Also, to get system files to show up in your searches, use a similar method as we did to get invisible files. I have a saved search that includes system and hidden files for when I want to get at them, so I don't have to create it every time.

    EDIT:

    Actually, I overcomplicated that. You don't need to create nested criteria. The only criteria you need is Invisible Files. In the Spotlight box in the upper right corner, just type in "NOT .DS_Store" and in the filter bar, switch is from "Contents" to "File Name". Should look like this:

    Picture 4.png
     
  3. TheSpaz macrumors 604

    TheSpaz

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    #3
    I hate using Spotlight in Leopard. It's the one thing I miss from Tiger. Why do I want to see "Last Opened"? As soon as I open the file, it pops to the top of the list! WHY? What if I want to sort by date modified, not "last opened". Spotlight is really, really a step backwards in Leopard.

    I'm also hoping it's better in Snow Leopard.
     
  4. Scottyk9 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    #4

    Have you tried re-indexing spotlight? While I agree improvements could be made, it has always been reliable in 'finding' the file for me.
     
  5. devburke Guest

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    #5
    I'd guess it has more to do with him looking for system and hidden files, which don't show up in the results by default. Fortunately, you can turn them on.
     
  6. armoguy94 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    #6
    cause if you sort from last opened then chances are you want to use the item you last opened... you don't really want to search for something that you've used only a year ago
     
  7. TheSpaz macrumors 604

    TheSpaz

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    #7
    How do you know what I want to search for? When I'm looking through iChat log files, I want to find files from a year ago, not from the last time I opened the file. Just an example. Tiger was MUCH better at sorting search results (it looked nicer too!).
     
  8. uaecasher macrumors 65816

    uaecasher

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Location:
    Stillwater, OK
    #8
    I have been using snow leopard for about 6 months and lost track of what's bad in leopard.

    What I can tell you that I'm very pleased with Snow Leopard Spotlight, I have putted my external HD which has 1000s of files and searched for one of them and it found them in 5s
     
  9. Saladinos macrumors 68000

    Saladinos

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2008
    #9
    My one complaint about Leopard was the "Show All" window for Spotlight searches.

    No, it hasn't changed in any significant way.
     
  10. LoganT macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    #10
    Spotlight is essentially a glorified app launcher now. I'm thinking of using Google Quick Search Box.
     
  11. pooryou macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    #11
    Spotlight also sucked in Tiger IMO. Hell Sherlock was better.

    Not sure WTH happened there...
     
  12. bry2k thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    #12
    devburke, thank you for that detailed reply. I knew there was some slightly hidden Spotlight functionality, but I couldn't remember how to get to it. I'm definitely saving your post for future reference.

    Unfortunately, based on your reply and others, it sounds like the option to sort search results any way I please (by name, date modified, by kind, etc...eg, all the options typically available in any Finder window) are not there, and I guess it's no different in Snow Leopard. I just can't believe how smart and simultaneously obtuse Apple is sometimes. They should make the search results window behave like any other Finder window, with command-J / View Options available for showing/hiding different columns to sort by.

    I use Pathfinder now and then, which has much better directory navigation functionality, but I've never tried searching with it. Does anybody know if Pathfinder provides a better search interface to Spotlight?

    Who's the Senior Product Manager at Apple for the Finder? Is it Steve Jobs? I want to send Apple an email about this... :mad:
     
  13. bry2k thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    #13
    Sounds like Snow Leopard has some upsides, but the lack of a good search interface really bothers me. I have 5 Macs on my network, 30+ external drives (I do a lot of media work - audio/video/graphics), 2 RAID's -- let me tell you...it's *really* hard to keep things organized. In some respects, I've given up.

    It seems like Apple has really struggled with inventing a good search solution. Sherlock worked, but then it died. Spotlight doesn't work and the interface has always been clunky, and it's slow, and it breaks easily. And what happened to the plugin functionality, where 3rd party developers could implement a Quick Look/Spotlight search for their file types? That didn't happen. And worst of all, the bug where you put a drive on a Tiger system, and Tiger/Spotlight wipes out the Leopard/Spotlight index, and then you go back to Leopard, and it has to re-index the whole drive. It's a nightmare.

    I wonder if anybody at Apple ever actually gets fired for stuff like this... </rant>
     
  14. bry2k thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    #14
    My last discombobulated thought on this...

    I think the best search engine Apple has ever come up with is iTunes. iTunes searches across all metadata, provides a great interface for adding extra metadata and batch applying metadata, and it instantly narrows down results as you type. I've got 40,000 items in my iTunes library, and when I search it, results are instantaneously updated in real time. Why can't Apple scale that to the filesystem/network?

    Launchbar - I played with it for a while, but it's just not meant to work as a "spotlight" for the entire filesystem.

    What else is there? I really need a solution...
     
  15. Cybbe macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    #15
    I agree that Spotlight is not what it could be. The core technology, the ability to quickly search through files, the contents of (some) of these plus meta data is good. But the interface is just useless. You can't even sort by date created, or file size. There are third party applications that are more advanced, but I don't want to trail through MacUpdate just to be able to have a decent search engine on my laptop.

    (Also, can someone tell my why Spotlight no longer searches through iPhoto? I haven't been able to figure out if Apple have removed this ability, or if there's something wrong with my library.)
     
  16. uaecasher macrumors 65816

    uaecasher

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Location:
    Stillwater, OK
    #16
    why do you hate it?
     
  17. LoganT macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    #17
    I don't see where he/she said they hate it.
     
  18. nsbio macrumors 6502a

    nsbio

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    Location:
    NC
    #18
    Do there seem to be principal differences between systems Apple sells? Maybe some of their computers come from Mars or something, because mine come from China and Spotlight on Tiger SUCKED HARD on both of them.

    It was impossible to find almost anything in Tiger and G%d forbid if you wanted to search for a phrase. Spotlight on Leopard actually works. I wonder...
     
  19. uaecasher macrumors 65816

    uaecasher

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Location:
    Stillwater, OK
    #19
    he/she said:

    My one complaint about Leopard was the "Show All" window for Spotlight searches.
     
  20. devburke Guest

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    #20
    I don't see anything in there as strong as hate
     
  21. dodiorne macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    #21
    Indexing

    I installed Snow Leopard on Friday and it's still "Estimating indexing time". I have it set to index documents only and my documents file is about 17 GB. Any thoughts on how to fix this?
     
  22. devburke Guest

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    #22
    Just to revisit this, in Snow Leopard you CAN add more columns to the Spotlight results windows, so here now is the exact search you originally asked for:

    Screen shot 2009-08-31 at 8.35.27 PM.png
     
  23. TheSpaz macrumors 604

    TheSpaz

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    #23
    Yeah, Snow Leopard's Spotlight is much nicer to use now. I'm loving it!
     
  24. JohnSunday macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    #24
    Complete agreement

    Completely agree with Bryan. The design and user interface of Leopard Spotlight is very poor. The sad thing is that it feels like there is a a decent engine at the core of it. One could easily make web videos illustrating the frustration one can have in finding a file that you can clearly see is on your computer. Spotlight makes searching by filename very difficult and obscure when it's one of the most common operations performed.
     
  25. lssmit02 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2004
    #25
    Yes, you can. You just need to enable it in View>Show View Options.

    Agreed. This would be very useful, particularly for cleaning out large files of a particular type (such as disk images).

    It's doing it for me, so not sure what's going on for you. Perhaps add the Pictures folder to the Spotlight exclude list, wait a few minutes, and then take it off the list. This should cause Spotlight to reindex the Pictures folder
     

Share This Page