Spotlight Is Useless

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Newmacer2, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. Newmacer2 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Location:
    Denver Colorado
    #1
    I'm trying to find an important file on my iMac, but Spotlight won't find it. I've tried several things, but to no avail. It's an important file concerning my wife's prescription records and it would take me hours to recreate it. I recently installed Xfinity's wonderful new Gateway router, (scoff) but I don't think that caused the problem, but who knows. I just know I used to be able to find anything on my hard drive, but not now. Any help would be appreciated. -- Frustrated in Denver
     
  2. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    #2
    Exactly what search parameters are you entering in order to search for it? Be explicit, be specific. Are you using the advanced search interface ( command-F)? Are you searching by filename or content (or both)? Specifying a creation or modification timeframe? File type or extension?
     
  3. ayetta macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    #3
    There’s so many scenarios that you’d probably have to provide a more detailed synopsis about the file, type, data looking to be retrieved, whether you use any cloud synchronizations/remote backups, etc. First, make sure that spotlight’s preferences are all checked in system preferences (I turn off spotlight suggestions for privacy issues). Basically, you want spotlight to be able to index all your mac’s data properly. Also, verify you didn’t potentially put a folder or file in the “privacy” tab of spotlight (used to bypass indexing so that spotlight can’t find it). Next thing I’d do, is potentially initiate a forced re-indexing of spotlight. Look up the terminal commands, or other ways to force re-index spotlight. But yea, like the previous poster stated, you can try narrowing your search parameters to get a more precise view of results (time added/created/modified, pdf/txt/png (photo), etc. You can use the Smart folders option in the “File” menu.
     
  4. BrianBaughn macrumors 603

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #4
    Hopefully, the above suggestions will help you find the file. If not, you can give the free EasyFind app a try. It works really well and isn't as persnickety about where and what it searches since it's not relying on a database, as Spotlight does. Searches take longer, as a result.
     
  5. Newmacer2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Location:
    Denver Colorado
    #5
    Thanks for all the tips. I don’t understand most of what was suggested because I’m not as computer literate as you guys. Basically, what I’m doing is searching like I always have in the past. Like a hundred times. I click the little spotlight icon and enter “prescriptions”, which is one word of the two word file name. The file is a spreadsheet document I created in LibreOffice.
     
  6. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    #6
    Do this instead:

    1) Do Command-F

    2) In the "Search for:" blank, type "presc". Wait. A dropdown should pop down suggesting that maybe you mean

    Filenames
    Name matches: presc

    3) Click on where it says "Name matches: presc"

    4) The results window should have multiple columns: Name, Size, etc. One of those columns should be "Date Modified". If not, go to the View menu in the standard overhead Finder menu bar and select "Show View Options" and check the checkbox for "Date Modified".

    5) Click the column header where it says "Date Modified" to sort by Date Modified. If it shows with an upward-pointing arrow like this: ^ click it a second time to change it to a downward-pointing arrow, which means the most recent Date Modified will be on the top. Any sign of your missing spreadsheet in the found results yet?

    If not...

    6) Click on and backspace over "presc" where it appears in the "Search for" blank. LEAVE it blank. Below it you should see a place that typically defaults to Kind is Any, and off to the far right of this same windows are a minus sign and a plus sign button. Change "Kind" to "Last opened date". Where it used to say "Any" it should now default to "is within last ___ days". If you know with some degree of precision how recently you had the file open, put that. If you don't, think of a date far enough back in time that you absolutely positive must have had it open since then and put THAT date instead. Now click the "+" (plus sign) button at the far right. The default will probably once again say "Kind is Any. Change "Kind" to "File extension". Type "ods" which is the LibreOffice file extension for spreadsheets.

    Anything?
     
  7. Newmacer2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Location:
    Denver Colorado
    #7
    --- Post Merged, Mar 8, 2018 ---
    Thank you so much!!! I'm at work and don't have access to my iMac, but I'll try your helpful suggestions as soon as I get home this afternoon. I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to give me such detailed instructions.
     
  8. Newmacer2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Location:
    Denver Colorado
    #8
    Well, I think I have a bigger problem than I was planning for. I tried your first solution and didn't get any columns. Then I tried your second solution and got as far as finding all my "ods" files, but not the one I was looking for. I then did a simple search for "ods"...same results. I even went into Time Machine. It didn't find any Ods files. This is really frustrating. Do you think I have a virus? I can recreate the missing file with a little work, but worry about the other files that may be gone.
     
  9. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    #9
    The possibility of you having a virus is about the same as the possibility that space aliens landed and stole your files. There are a lot of other possibilities, one of which is that you have LibreOffice set up to save all of its documents in a different format by default. Open LibreOffice, make a simple spreadsheet and save it, and then look at the extension. Whatever you see, that's the extension you should search for.
     
  10. Newmacer2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Location:
    Denver Colorado
    #10
    I think it's a lost cause. I did as you suggested and the extension on the test file is ods. This makes sense because I haven't set up any default formats in LibreOffice and I have two other spreadsheets on my computer that I work in every day that have the same file extension. They are both still there. I've had the missing spreadsheets on my computer for at least five years and have accessed them by doing the spotlight search on "Prescriptions". Until this week it has worked. I guess the aliens DID take them? I think the strangest thing about all this is that I am unable to even find them through "Time Machine" or my external drive that should have them on there.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 9, 2018 ---
    I found them! I went into my external drive again. This time I clicked on the backups folder and selected January 2018. It was there. It's still a mystery why I couldn't find it before on my iMac hard drive or the external drive using Spotlight. I'm just glad I found it. Thanks again for your help.
     
  11. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003

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10 March 7, 2018