Friday, December 15, 2006

Creating a user-friendly find tool for OS X

I've been gradually beating OS X into something that's relatively user friendly. It's quite a struggle, and I'll summarize it at some point. The experience reminds me again how I miss the unequalled brilliance of the pre-switcher (eg. pre-pre-multifinder) Mac OS, or even of the clever GeoWorks 1st level GUI. Heck, even Simple Finder classic would be welcome (a pox upon Simple Finder OS X).

One thing I've wanted is a simple Find function that would search documents and email. Spotlight is too geeky and searches too many areas. The embedded Find you get when typing in a folder bar, or the Find you get from Cmd-F or the Finder menu is a bit better, but not simple enough. MoRU is almost right, with a few changes it could become a very novice friendly tool.

None are quite right however. The best I could come up with was a tweaked Smart Folder, unfortunately it doesn't search mail (more about that). Here's what I did:
  1. Create a smart folder called 'Find Documents'. Put it on the desktop.
  2. For the initial search text enter 'Type your search here'.
  3. Right click on the center of the window and choose View Options.
  4. Set View to icon only, make the text displayed 16 point and the icons very big.
  5. Save the Smart Folder.
  6. Right Click 'Get Info'. Click 'Locked'.
The resulting file sits on the desktop and is easy to see. Open it and see the instructions. Click there and type. It's locked so it can't be saved and overwritten.

BTW, the Get Info dialog will show part of the Spotlight query represented by this folder. The exclusion of com. apple.mail.emlx, I think, is what prevents Smart Folders from returning results from

No comments: