Uses for Smart Folders?

Heb1228

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Feb 3, 2004
2,215
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Virginia Beach, VA
I was pretty excited about Smart Folders being a new feature in Tiger, but I really haven't found myself using the feature very much. Am I missing something? Are there some really good uses that I just haven't thought of? I guess I'm just wanting to know how others are using this feature.

I'd like to use it more if I could think of some good uses for it. (I use smart playlists in iTunes and Smart Albums in iPhoto all the time, but smart folders just hasn't found its way into my workflow.)
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,191
5
Adelaide, Australia
I'm the same. I'm a pretty well organised guy when it comes to filing everything away in the right places so I haven't come across a single use for them yet.

Does anyone who does actually use them know if they take up many resources having long and convoluted ones lying around everywhere?
 

Heb1228

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Feb 3, 2004
2,215
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Virginia Beach, VA
mad jew said:
I'm the same. I'm a pretty well organised guy when it comes to filing everything away in the right places so I haven't come across a single use for them yet.

Does anyone who does actually use them know if they take up many resources having long and convoluted ones lying around everywhere?
Since they don't actually exist until you click on the folders (Spotlight does an on-the-spot search from what I understand) I don't think they use any resources other than immediately after you open them and they are filling with items.
 

Heb1228

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Feb 3, 2004
2,215
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Virginia Beach, VA
mad jew said:
Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks for that. :)
No prob. But I'm with you as far as actually using them... I think I would have used them more if they had been available in Panther, but I just use Spotlight for finding stuff now, I hardly use regular folders anymore, much less Smart Folders.

(Note: Yes, I know there was no way to put them in Panther since they depend on Spotlight to work. I knew somebody would try to tell me that :D)
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,191
5
Adelaide, Australia
I've still got to get into the habit of using Spotlight more. I dunno why, but I just end up navigating through the old-school Finder to get stuff still. It's strange because Spotlight is so much faster and easier.
 

Heb1228

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Feb 3, 2004
2,215
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Virginia Beach, VA
mad jew said:
I've still got to get into the habit of using Spotlight more. I dunno why, but I just end up navigating through the old-school Finder to get stuff still. It's strange because Spotlight is so much faster and easier.
Haha yeah I still find myself doing that occasionally. I just hit myself in the head repeatedly yelling, "Stupid, stupid!" to try and break the habit :D
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
2
Smart Folders are like saved Spotlight searches. I don't find much use for it, since I prefer aliases. If I need a file, I'll do a Spotlight search instead.
 

Chef Medeski

macrumors 6502a
Jun 14, 2005
975
0
New York, NY
I think theyre greatly helpful.

For instance, I have about 3,500 pics. They are usually ordered into their dates. However, with coments I can adjust it to whatever I want from person, place, time of day. I mean its great cause after setting it up it only takes a couple clips to get a different folder system all together. I guess its only really sueful for people who have a bulk of items that can't be just copied or searched
 

Heb1228

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Feb 3, 2004
2,215
0
Virginia Beach, VA
Chef Medeski said:
I think theyre greatly helpful.

For instance, I have about 3,500 pics. They are usually ordered into their dates. However, with coments I can adjust it to whatever I want from person, place, time of day. I mean its great cause after setting it up it only takes a couple clips to get a different folder system all together. I guess its only really sueful for people who have a bulk of items that can't be just copied or searched
Yeah I see what you mean, and I agree that it could be very useful for that. But I do basically that same thing in iPhoto with Smart Albums. Is there an advantage to doing it in Smart Folders instead?
 

furryrabidbunny

macrumors 6502
May 10, 2005
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Mesa, AZ
I use them for backups to my external hard drive. I have created a smart folder for my music, pictures, and other documents. After i did my big backup, I edited the smart folders to only contain items created after the backup. I will edited that date after each backup to have a creation date after my last backup. That way, i dont have to deal with any extra application to backup my stuff, and I dont have to keep track of whats on the drive, or deal with a bunch of dialogue boxes asking if I want to replace an item.
 

quackattack

macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2004
571
0
Boise, ID
furryrabidbunny said:
I use them for backups to my external hard drive. I have created a smart folder for my music, pictures, and other documents. After i did my big backup, I edited the smart folders to only contain items created after the backup. I will edited that date after each backup to have a creation date after my last backup. That way, i dont have to deal with any extra application to backup my stuff, and I dont have to keep track of whats on the drive, or deal with a bunch of dialogue boxes asking if I want to replace an item.
Good thought, I may have to try that. This is the most useful application I have heard for them.
 

untamedhysteria

macrumors regular
Jul 31, 2005
118
0
smart folders

currently the only thing i use smart folders for is for having all the games in the same place *having a Games smartfolder*. I did like the idea of using them for backups...pretty smart move.

Also, for others that use this computer, which by the way are no way a normal computer user (they barely know how to use the mouse), i've set up some smart folders for just about everything you can think of that they would use (like the Games, also only the apps they would normally use, plus documents, etc) and i just add them to their docks. I know that they could easily just go to Documents folder, but like i said, they are completely lost on that...plus, they like to save documents all over the place, so smart folders really help with that.
 

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,238
4
heck, i need to start using spotlight itself more before i figure out how useful the smart folders can be, i've just forgotten how easy it is to search.

Off Topic: are there any imageready plugins for Automator? i really want to try and play around with it. basically take a folder filled with images and have it downsize their quality so they are smaller in size so i can put them up online.
 

dubbz

macrumors 68020
Sep 3, 2003
2,284
0
Alta, Norway
Haven't used it much.

Messed around with it a bit straight after I've installed Tiger (since it seemed like a nice idea), but I found it to be a bit slow and unstable.

I generally just use the Finder and look around myself, or use Spotlight, occationally. Not that I manage to keep it very organized. I try... but there's this annoying difference between 'trying' and 'succeeding'.
 

Dm84

macrumors regular
Apr 25, 2005
112
0
Allston, MA
I'm a college student who is also editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper. I have two smart folders. One is for any document related to my college (i.e. calendars in PDF form, all my class assignments, and iCal items). My other Smart Folder is for anything related to my newspaper's operation like articles submitted to me, Address book contacts, pictures, and ad material.

I created an add comment workflow in Automator that allows me to add comments to files by right clicking on files in Finder. As soon as I get a school or newspaper related file, I add comments based on which type of file it is. This way if I need to find an article or assignment, I just open the appropriate Smart Folder and pick out the file I need.

Smart Folders make my life much easier, although it took me a while to figure out just how useful they are.
 

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,238
4
Dm84 said:
I'm a college student who is also editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper. I have two smart folders. One is for any document related to my college (i.e. calendars in PDF form, all my class assignments, and iCal items). My other Smart Folder is for anything related to my newspaper's operation like articles submitted to me, Address book contacts, pictures, and ad material.

I created an add comment workflow in Automator that allows me to add comments to files by right clicking on files in Finder. As soon as I get a school or newspaper related file, I add comments based on which type of file it is. This way if I need to find an article or assignment, I just open the appropriate Smart Folder and pick out the file I need.

Smart Folders make my life much easier, although it took me a while to figure out just how useful they are.
could you share that workflow with me/us? i think that would be a very useful too. i am not too proficient with Automator just yet...
 

Dm84

macrumors regular
Apr 25, 2005
112
0
Allston, MA
PlaceofDis said:
could you share that workflow with me/us? i think that would be a very useful too. i am not too proficient with Automator just yet...
Yeah I could. The trick here is to open the workflow up in Automator and then click save as plug in with Finder as the type.

The only thing is that I have a dialog box come up each time asking me which comments it should insert. I prefer it this way but others might not (you can check or uncheck this in Automator before you save it as a plug in. If you don't want it to appear each time it's run, then enter the comment you want it to add each time before saving as a plug in.
 

Attachments

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,238
4
Dm84 said:
Yeah I could. The trick here is to open the workflow up in Automator and then click save as plug in with Finder as the type.

The only thing is that I have a dialog box come up each time asking me which comments it should insert. I prefer it this way but others might not (you can check or uncheck this in Automator before you save it as a plug in. If you don't want it to appear each time it's run, then enter the comment you want it to add each time before saving as a plug in.
awesome, thank you very much
 

Marble

macrumors 6502a
May 13, 2003
770
4
Tucson, AZ
I find smart folders to be useful for organizing file types that there already isn't an organizing solution for, which it is nice to say is not many. However, I do collect audio files in the formats .mod, .s3m, .it, .xm, etc. and find it useful to have a folder that can identify all those "modules" on my computer in case I feel like playing them unconverted.
 

stevietheb

macrumors 6502a
Jan 15, 2004
591
0
Houston
I've only found one use for them. I do a lot of translation work. In finder I like to keep the various translation documents in various places for various reasons. BUT, I have folder actions set up on those folders where I create these documents that add appropriate comments to the Spotlight field like "Latin" or "Hebrew" or "Greek" etc. SO, I have smart folders for each of the languages so that I can quickly access all those documents without having to remember where they are in Finder.

In general, however, I keep a very tidy file system...so I usually know exactly where to find stuff I'm working on. If I don't know where it is, that is usually because I don't use that item much--a one time spotlight search is the solution there.

One scenario I just thought of was a ".plist" smart folder. I'm often trying out apps, and when I decide (more often than not) that I don't want them, I like to delete all the plist data. Maybe having a smart folder that found all plist files would be useful--then you could just search for "app_name" or whatever within that smart folder.

I dunno....
 

Heb1228

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Feb 3, 2004
2,215
0
Virginia Beach, VA
I think the backup idea is a good suggestion as well as the Automator plugin that adds spotlight comments. I'll see if I can think of a good way to implement these in the next couple of days.

Here's the only way I presently use Smart Folders:

I'm in school now, and I've always kept a "School" folder in my "Documents" folder. In that I kept subfolders of each class so I would have the syllabus and papers and assignments, etc... Well this semester I made a Smart folder to show all documents in my "School" folder created since Aug. 1st. Then I put an alias to the smart folder in my dock. So now I'm one click away from having a folder open with all my class notes files, syllabi, class handouts, papers, etc. I've used it quite a bit.
 

jacg

macrumors 6502a
Jan 16, 2003
913
46
UK
I too was excited about smart folders after installing Tiger. However, the first thing I tried did not work (in several ways).

I tried to make a smart folder for documents I'd opened in the last couple of weeks. Apparently Adobe Indesign files aren't documents?!? They don't appear in the list of recently modified documents (and spotlight doesn't search their contents anyway). So I tried using the 'Kind = Other..." option and selected the document types I would like in my folder (instead of the stupid stuff like font lists and XML files that spotlight came up with). Of course I quickly realised that you can't have more than one 'kind' of file because it is an 'AND' search. Eventually I found out how to do an 'OR' search, although it was complicated and I have already forgotten.

It doesn't matter because the other unexpected flaw was when I finally created the smart folder I wanted I dragged it into my dock for fast access and, oh dear, that doesn't work. What a huge waste of time.

While I'm ranting (and yes, I have told Apple about all of these things), when I use the spotlight menu, why can't I right click items to do useful things. I don't always want to open every item I try to find; 'reveal in finder' would be very useful. Having to open a spotlight finder window (and wait for it apparently to do the search all over again) just to select reveal in finder is stupid. Even better, why can't I just drag it from the menu list?

I do like Tiger a lot (including spotlight's other skills) but I was surpised how much functionality was missing - I have become so used to trying things and finding them work just like you expected.
 
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