Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Operators in Windows Search and Spotlight - Common and Similar

This is a narrowcast post. It's of interest to someone who ...
  1. Is a serious geek.
  2. Has to routinely find things in very large document and email collections.
  3. Uses both Windows Search (built into Vista/7, add-on for XP) and Spotlight for OS X.
If you're still reading we need to go out for a beer the next time you're in MSP. There are only 2-3 like us on earth.

In an earlier post I discussed operators in Spotlight. When I first posted I complained about the difficulty of reconciling Windows Search operators and Spotlight operators. It's tough enough to learn one set, but learning two is kinda painful.

My first impression was wrong though. It turns out that several operators work in both Spotlight and Windows Search. Below is a list of common operators, followed by a list of differing operators and conventions. I'll update both lists over time. I'm only including the ones I use, there are many more.

Common operators (work in both Windows Search and Spotlight)
  • author:
  • kind:folder
  • kind:contacts
  • kind:email
  • kind:music
  • date:>7/4/1776
  • Boolean rules with parens (AND, OR, NOT)
Differing operators (W|S)
  • Windows uses () to contain phrases, Spotlight uses quotes
  • kind:docs | kind:document
  • not available | kind:application
  • modified:3/7/08..3/10/08 | modified:3/7/08-3/10/08 (hyphen might work in Win)
I think Windows Search accepts a number of variations, so I'm going to try more OS X Spotlight operators and syntax with Windows Search and document what works. Even now, however, it's impressive how much commonality there is.
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