Sunday, September 05, 2010

Better Spotlight in 10.6: search current Finder folder and more

This is new in 10.6. I just read of it. For me it's one of the very best things about Snowie ...
TidBITS Problem Solving: Find Files More Easily in Mac OS X
... you can restrict Spotlight to search the current Finder folder by default, instead of This Mac. To do this, choose Finder -> Preferences, click the Advanced button, and choose Search the Current Folder from the pop-up menu. From then on, when you invoke the Finder's Find command by choosing File > Find (Command-F), searches will be limited to the current folder showing in the frontmost Finder window....
The search window in the Finder menu will also default to searching the currently selected folder.

Drives me crazy that the best features of 10.6 are bloody secrets.

Now if I could only search by file name instead of all contents...
... you can make sure the Search bar at the top of the Finder window is set to File Name without requiring an additional click. Hold down the Shift key, and choose File > Find by Name (Command-Shift-F). This command is available in both Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard...
Auggghhhahaha! Now they tell me. I just did it. It works.

Wow. Search scoped by folder context, default to file name.... It doesn't get better than this. If only this were the default behavior ...

Yeah, search by file name can be mapped to Cmd-F -- but it requires a logout and login to work. You can also tweak the search results window layout and add a "Last Modified" column to the list view. Please read the original article and send TidBITS some love.

Oh, one last thing. Suppose you've done all of the above but you want to restrict your search to only folder names and modified after 1/1/2010. That looks like this:
kind:folder date:>1/1/2010
Yes, you can use the same sort of operators with Spotlight that you can use with Windows Search. Alas, they aren't identical, so if you do both you are more or less doomed. (I was wrong, they do overlap.)

These operators are usually described as "undocumented", the including in this excellent 7/10 CNET article. That article gives us examples like:
"Apple Computer" kind:pdf OR "Apple Computer" kind:text NOT (Google OR Yahoo OR "Microsoft Corporation")
In fact in 10.6 these features are documented in the little known OS X feature known only as "Help". (It's still not as good as Windows Help, but it no longer sucks.). Search Help on "Spotlight" and look for these Help articles:
  • Performing a Boolean or metadata search
  • Searching for specific types of items

1 comment:

chrismealy said...

I don't know if it is faster or just seems faster, but I always just use 'mdfind' from the command line.