Apple naming its file management system “Finder” seems to lend itself to the idea that files and folders are easy to find. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Therefore Apple built a search tool inside its operating system to help wade through a myriad of folders and directories to help you find what you are looking for.
The first iteration of this technology pre-dates OS X and was a client/server search tool called AppleSearch in 1994. It was not well received (or used) so Apple updated the interface to re-release the Finder search tool, this time calling it Sherlock in 1998. Sherlock was and extension, and part of the Mac OS 8.5 launch. Today’s Spotlight replaced Sherlock in 2005 and was part of the release of OS X 10.4 (aka Tiger).
While Apple has updated the Finder’s search tool over the years there are still a few minor adjustments that should be made which would make the it far more useful and powerful.
First, Apple should move the option “Show all in Finder” selection from the very bottom of results list to the very top. There are many times I want to view the files in the Finder (to see more data about them) instead of in the Spotlight results window.
That brings me to my second wish for a Spotlight update — allow Spotlight results to show WHERE a file is located without having to open it. There are times I want to make a copy of a particular file, use Spotlight to find it, but must first open the file and then work backwards to find the folder it is in in order to make a duplicate. This is not only time consuming, it renders Spotlight useless as a time saving feature. If I could instead open the Finder to reveal where the file is — that would be a big improvement.
Finally allow Spotlight to search my entire Mac file system, not just the pretty areas where I’m supposed to work. This means in the System Library and other nooks and crannies Apple would prefer I not wander. Why? Well sometimes I will edit a photo from Apple’s Photos, but with Pixelmator. I drag the photo from Photos to Pixelmator, make my edits and then save. Whoops. Where did it get saved? Somewhere deep in the bowls of the Apple Photos hidden directory. Spotlight will not look there. It is like trying to find an Easter basket but you are not allowed to look in the rooms where the basket is — quite maddening.
All in all Spotlight is has vastly improved searching for items on your Mac, however there are a few more tweaks that need to be made in order to make Spotlight über-useful.
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