Spotlight is giving me a headache: anyone know how to correct the following ..

Discussion in 'macOS' started by foeniox, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. foeniox macrumors newbie


    Dec 24, 2007
    I'm having real trouble with Spotlight, i can't for the life of me figure out how to achieve the following things, can anyone help?

    For a start, when i type a query into the search box located in the corner of a Finder window, why does it search the whole computer by default? If i wanted to search the whole computer surely i'd use the global Spotlight (cmd-space)! If i'm searching in the Finder, having navigated to a directory, isn't it far more probable i want to search for results in just the directory i'm currently in?!?! Why do i have to click the damn button for "this folder" each time! Is it possible to alter this in a .plist somewhere?

    Furthermore i just cant get Spotlight to perform phrase queries in, what i believe to be, a sensible manner. If i search a folder full of PDF's for the phrase 'distance vector' i get results for pdf's containing the word 'distance' and the word 'vector'. Thats great, but a lot of my pdf's have 'distance' in them, and a lot have 'vector'! I specifically want the the phrase 'distance vector'. Putting the phrase in inverted comma's doesn't help: i get no results. I just cant seem to get this working.

    Thirdly i oft get vanishing results when typing in a query and double clicking on a returned pdf result - it just vanishes from the results display! All i can think is that Spotlight is also indexing the results by last opened date, because if i switch to list view and change the ordering to 'by name' they stop vanishing from the list when i open them. This behaviour isnt 100% reproducible but it happens frequently.

    Lastly, this is a point of contention as well as a wish, in domains such as the 'open with application' contextual menu - after it offers up the 'browse for application' dialogue i usually just type in the little Spotlight box nested in the corner: something like xcode or textedit. The results however return every type of file with that word in it. If its a dialogue box to select an application to open the file with then why oh why is it not only returning applications! This just seems so stupid to me. It's actually faster to navigate to the developer folder and select xcode manually than it is to type xcode in the box, then click the little + and finally select kind: application.

    Thanks for any help that anyone can offer.

  2. LtRammstein macrumors 6502a


    Jun 20, 2006
    Denver, CO
    You have to remember that Spotlight learns your search patterns. For me, I use Disk Utility a lot, so when I type, "di" it immediately pops up with Disk Utility for me to use.

    Yes, it is frustrating to use Spotlight and not do what you want, but you have to use it a lot and it will start to learn, remember that.

    Besides, if you really want to find the file you want, just use and use the find and grep comands.
  3. foeniox thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 24, 2007
    It really doesn't, i don't use Spotlight to search anything except the contents of pdf's and even i get disk utility if i type 'di'.

    It honestly doesn't .. i cant find a single article or techdoc about Spotlight learning/adapting to the users frequently used files. Quicksilver does however, incredibly well - which is why i use Quicksilver for file location.

    I'm using mdfind and a combination of find/locate and grep. This isnt really as convenient though, its convoluted for one, as clicking and typing 'distance vector' in a box is much simpler. And please don't say you can make the Terminal easier - im a programmer - i have a small platoon of functions in my .profile for common search forms. It's simply not the click and type experience i should be getting from Spotlight.

    Secondly searching the content of certain pdfs is difficult/impractical using the Terminal. The content is either compressed or it has a lot of formulae; Sometimes the pdf is of a scanned/ocr'd nature and searching its content is nigh on impossible without Spotlight or Preview or some other tool with pdf functionality.
  4. foeniox thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 24, 2007
    Does everyones spotlight behave as i described in the 1st post?

    if this is 'normal' behaviour its woeful

    but if its weird quirks and bugs accumulated through detritus between software updates im willing to do a reinstall.

    Can anyone take 30 seconds and confirm that spotlight behaves the same for them?

  5. telecomm macrumors 65816


    Nov 30, 2003
    I get Dictionary, and was also under the impression that Spotlight adapts to return frequently searched terms first.

    "co" for example, alternately returns Console or GraphicConverter first, depending on what I've been doing.
  6. Corrode macrumors 6502a


    Dec 26, 2008
    Calgary, AB
    "di" = dictionary
    "s" = snes9x - because I always open this program through spotlight

    Maybe it records how many times you've opened each application and then uses that to determine what comes up first.

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