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Tiger Spotlight Less Then Optimal 126

Posted by Hemos
from the slower-then-molasses dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "Spotlight turns out to be a major pain for many users because it can't be turned off and insists on indexing volumes each time they are mounted. Additionally, Spotlight doesn't come with a manual to teach you how to create complex queries. Most simple available queries --style popup menu selection-- are not powerful enough to be really useful. A tutorial on http://www.scribent.com/ will explain how you can optimize Spotlight's behaviour and get the most of it, but all in all it seems like Apple has been overhyping in the extremes."
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Tiger Spotlight Less Then Optimal

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  • I find it to be very fast, and haven't encountered some of the problems that others claim is crippling them.

    Of course, I wouldn't mind that manual on creating advanced queries...
    • Re:Not That Bad (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GaryPatterson (852699) on Monday May 23, 2005 @07:46AM (#12610824)
      After posting that, it might be nice to elaborate.

      I've heard others say that it cripples their machines, even the new iMacs. I've got a iBook that's just had its first year, and I don't see the problems. I don't get any slowdowns or have to wait ages for results from my 60GB drive (of which around 55GB is used). I've got around 300,000 files at the moment.

      Apparently someone chained 23 Firewire drives together, and then complained about the performance of Spotlight. Not the most realistic example (who would need that set-up but wouldn't have invested in either fewer, larger drives or a server?).

      How does Spotlight go on OS X Server, running on a real server box? I don't know that one, but I'd be curious to find out.

      I've heard about problems in searching for word fragments inside other words.

      If I type "ding" (knowing full well I have a Word document titled 'building my PC.doc'), Spotlight fails to find it. If I type "buil" it comes up straight away. Could that be a problem? Well, in this example no - but that's mainly because I'd never search for the second syllable like that.

      Does a search for "PC" turn the file up? Yes it does. So... this seems to indicate that I can't search for the middle of words, just the beginning of them. Not really an issue for me, but I can see that someone with filenames like "BuildingPC" might have trouble.

      Actually... not at all!

      I just made a duplicate of the file "Building My PC.doc" and renamed the copy to "BuildingMyPC.doc". When I went to Spotlight to search for it, my last search for "PC" turned this file up without me having to type anything in at all!

      What about the file search box (Command-F in the Finder)? Acts just the same. No lock-ups on my machine, no problems outside of those reported in the Ars Technica review last month.

      I see a lot more happiness with Spotlight users than unhappiness. I guess that's what they mean when they say "the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'."
      • I agree with you, I have not at all found a lot of the problems people complain about and those I know who do seem to have strange setups that I personally would find less than optimal a setup for their systems.
        • Get a real Mac.

          That beige G3 233 MHz is now ready for YellowDog, forwarding mail.

          • Get a real Mac.
            • Ouch... but my keyboard isn't (sorry for the aborted post, here's what I meant to write:)

              Get a real Mac.

              I have a real Mac (dual 2 Ghz G5 with 2 GB RAM), and Spotlight still is slow!

              I used to use the old search in finder and it was much faster (after you indexed your directories).

              I'll type in what I'm looking for and it will beach-ball in the middle of my typing and not let me type the whole thing in. And I always get tons of false positives for stuff that should be unique (e.g. man_cims).

              Spotligh
              • I see this sort of thing on forums, but I just don't know how your machine performs less well with Spotlight, than my machine.

                I've only got an iBook. Your dual 2GHz G5 should wipe the floor with it.

                I get results as I type, instantly, and have yet to see the beachball either in the little Spotlight menu bar thingy (command-space) or the search window.

                Maybe there's some sort of weird optimisation going on that hurts G5 performance, or maybe there's something unique to your machine. I don't see this from a
                • My dual G5 (1.8, 1GB) is very fast w/ spotlight (though I don't have many attached volumes). I bet it's some individual setup issue, rather than a G5 issue.
                • ...have you tried turning disk "journaling" off? I know that Tiger "doesn't reccomend" it, and you can't even do it (to the bood disk/partition) from disk utility while in Tiger, but you can if you boot from another configuration.

                  I found that it really speeds things up for my iMac 800mhz - that's not where I store all my "important" info so I can take that risk with that computer. I'm not even sure what the "risks" of turning off disk journaling even are if there are any ... anyone?
                • My 10.2 iBook sometimes gets slowed down by something screwing with permissions in the input method or auto-spell-checking stuff. One thing that may help is using the disk utility on the CD to repair permissions.

                  If you don't know where that is, Boot the install CD, look immediately in the install menu before you click any other buttons. The disk repair menu has two options, you should recognize which repairs permissions if you know that it's there.

                  Caveat -- the database has been known to get screwed up, l
              • I also find that it's lightning-fast on my G4 iBook.

                Faster than I type fast.

                There's something goofy about your set-up. If Spotlight is running slowly for you, then it ain't that "Spotlight is slow", it's that something is wrong with your system. If you live near an Apple Store, lug it over there and show it to those "Genius Bar" people.
              • I've got a dual 2 Ghz G5 with 2 GB ram as well. 250GB main drive, some Firewire 160s and 200s, Spotlight is really really fast. Got about 400,000 files on the main drive.
              • I have a real Mac (dual 2 Ghz G5 with 2 GB RAM), and Spotlight still is slow!

                I have that same setup and I haven't noticed any slow down. It is very responsive and I haven't ever noticed the beach ball.

                Do you have a very large amount of data?
      • I just made a duplicate of the file "Building My PC.doc" and renamed the copy to "BuildingMyPC.doc". When I went to Spotlight to search for it, my last search for "PC" turned this file up without me having to type anything in at all!

        I bet you have the word "PC" somewhere in the text of that file.
        • That was my thought as well, but I just tried making a new empty word document and saving it as "BuildingMyPC.doc". Searching with Spotlight for PC found it no problem, as did searches for Build, My, and pc. But not ding, so it seems that Spotlight is camel case aware.
      • Re:Not That Bad (Score:3, Interesting)

        Apparently someone chained 23 Firewire drives together, and then complained about the performance of Spotlight. Not the most realistic example

        Video editors tend to use firewire drives like people used to use floppy or Zip disks -- they've stacks of them and are plugging them in or moving them around to grab stuff. I agree that's a "ghetto" way of doing things, but one of the selling points of the Mac is that it's a cheap video platform, so not everyone's buying big storage RAIDs.

        I haven't noticed any pa
        • Re:Not That Bad (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          There is a global option to disable indexing. Like all low-level configuration settings that the user never needs to touch, it's in /etc/hostconfig.

          This whole mess started because somebody didn't understand how Spotlight works. When you add a volume to the Spotlight privacy list, Spotlight creates a property list file in a hidden Spotlight metadata folder on the volume. When you then go back and ERASE the volume, you delete the exclusions file and Spotlight begins indexing the volume again.

          The solution is
        • I've got 8 firewire drives plugged in now. No major spotlight issues. I'm a bit more likely going to run into bus speed issues.
    • Re:Not That Bad (Score:3, Informative)

      by peragrin (659227)
      I have got to agree. i just downloaded the www.neooffice.org spotlight plugin. It indexs all of my Open Office files.

      I can type in a sentence from one of those files and it pops right up. I often find myself knowing part of a quote but not the filename where the rest of the quote is located. I type it in. and there it is.

      Indexing took literally minutes on my powerbook, and just a few hundred open Office files.

      My biggest compaliant is that it looks like Apple took MSFT fisher price colour scheme for
    • Spotlight made my hair go grey. I just wanted to know where one file is, I knew the filename was something like "The List" or "TheList". So i type cmd+space and "List", and spotlight searched
      searched ....
      and after 5 minutes nothing.

      So I opened a finder, and searched there, but also nothing, so I clicked on the red close finder window button and ... finder crashed.

      So I opend a shell and typed find . -name *List* and ~1min later I found the file.

      Seriously.

      Then I tried it again in the finder window, and su
  • by Taladar (717494) on Monday May 23, 2005 @07:43AM (#12610810)
    So all the article says is that the Silver Bullet or Holy Grail of Searching didn't turn out to be something one could create simply by telling the programmers to do it?

    Apple (and MS for that matter) try to create a system where you don't have to keep any order on your computer and find anything you want instantly. I am sure I am not the only one with a gut-feeling that this is closer to the area of unsolvable problems, right with "Making Software Idiotproof" and "Creating the perfect user-interface everyone can use without any prior computer experience" and "Creating a 100% secure computer on the internet",...
  • by Silas (35023) on Monday May 23, 2005 @07:44AM (#12610815) Homepage
    There are numerous hints floating around [macosxhints.com] on how to disable Spotlight. I did this on a slower Powerbook, and it worked, actually making Tiger feel as fast as I would have expected with a major OS upgrade. I *really* like Spotlight, but that hardware was suffering at its hands.

    Silas

    • by Anonymous Coward
      According to the very page you linked [macosxhints.com], this hint "does kill searching in Mail.app", so you fix A and break B, so it's kinda, you know, like, a no-hint. :-(
    • Here [macupdate.com]. Though it looks like it justs modifies the /etc/hostconfig file, if that's all it takes(?)
    • I did this on a slower Powerbook, and it worked, actually making Tiger feel as fast as I would have expected with a major OS upgrade.

      I haven't noticed it on my wife's G3/500 iBook which is pretty close to the bottom of supported machines. I did replace the hard drive at one point (2-year olds...) so perhaps it's an I/O bound operation.
    • ...actually making Tiger feel as fast as I would have expected with a major OS upgrade.

      And this succinctly captures the difference between Apple and most other consumer operating system developers.

      Would anyone expect Longhorn to be faster than Windows XP? Or the next iteration of [insert your favourite Linux OS here] to be faster than the previous?

      I say full kudos to Apple for demonstrating that OS improvements should not automatically require hardware upgrades (and where they do - for example, utilisi

      • Would anyone expect Longhorn to be faster than Windows XP? Or the next iteration of [insert your favourite Linux OS here] to be faster than the previous?

        Were previous versions of Windows as poorly performing as previous versions of OS X, yes.

        OS X was abominably slow before 10.3. 10.3 made is somewhat usable. 10.4 is approaching snappy. Maybe 10.5 will be as responsive as Windows [anything] is and OS 9 was.

  • by Llywelyn (531070) on Monday May 23, 2005 @07:52AM (#12610840) Homepage
    For what it is worth I haven't had most of the problems being described. I use spotlight every day and while advanced queries are nice (and a manual would be even nicer) simple queries are *far* from "not powerful enough to be really useful."

    Sure, it has some issues (report them to apple as bugs when you find them, it is the only way they know about them), but it is fast and it Works For Me(TM).

    Now if only someone would create a LaTeX mdimporter...
  • by amake (673443)

    I've had a lot of problems with Spotlight. When I have a large external hard drive (160GB divided into 3 partitions) attached, I will find at random times that the processes mds and LAServer will start eating all of my CPU. This occurs despite the fact that all of my drives, including the external, have already been completely indexed. I've tried re-indexing (sudo mdutil -E /Volumes/volname), I've tried disabling indexing alltogether ( sudo mdutil -i off /Volumes/volname). None of these solutions worked

    • by MrPerfekt (414248) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:49AM (#12611054) Homepage Journal
      I have three 300GB FW800 drives running at RAID 5 via software and I never ever have had a problem. I rarely see the drives access unless I actually use them.

      Granted, a disable feature seems like a no-brainer. I have no idea why Apple is forcing people to use Spotlight. That's kinda shady if you like ze porn and want to show someone something and accidentally end up exposing that you watched "All Anal Babes 4.mpg".

      Er, Uh, not like that's ever happened to me.
      • Err... you know you can disable Spotlight in specific folders, right?

        Under the Spotlight System Preference pane, click on the privacy pane and add your pr0n folder.

        • by holt (86624)
          Yeah, but if I'm snooping through someone's system, the first place I look for things that might be interesting is going to be the Spotlight preferences. So I have mixed feelings about "hiding" anything with that preference...

          Besides, if you're not putting your pr0n on encrypted disk images, you're not trying hard enough.
          • Yes, my pr0n is only accessible in a PGP Disk file with a 45 character password and using an old beta copy of PGP that means you need to set the PC clock back by three years to avoid the "Trial period has expired" message. The key is also only held on a USB drive. The disk file is also in a hidden folder called "__temp" within my Photoshop testing folder and is named "scratchdisk".

            Of course, now everyone on /. knows where to find my pr0n...

            Stuart
      • Well, that's what the Privacy tab of Spotlight's Preferences is for - just list the folders you don't want indexed, and your pr0n is safe.

        Uh, so I'm told, anyway.

  • Never found that I needed it on Panther, and haven't used it since I upgraded.

    That being said, I'm not saying *someone* will find it useful, but really, it just looks like an attempt to move Firefox's "Find in page" functionality to the OS level.

    I haven't noted any major performance hits either, and my current use of Tiger has been limited to a 1GHz Powerbooks, which usually gets a LaCie FireWire drive hooked up to it.

    In fact, the only problem I've had with Tiger is that the UT2004 demo doesn't run

  • I think it will take time before users really get effective use out of spotlight. It takes time to get used to the concept of using the search box in the upper right in file dialogs, the file manager, etc. instead of drilling down through directories manually. Spotlight also doesn't remove the need to have things reasonably categorized in directories, but it makes things far easier to find in such well patterned layouts.

    It doesn't replace directories, it just makes things easier to find in them. Once pe
  • This sounds like an opportunity for someone to fill in the gaps that Apple left, the way Codetek Virtual Desktop or Unsanity Shapeshifter have. The Spotlight configuration files are relatively simple, so it doesn't sound like it would be difficult to produce a "Spotlight Enhancer".
  • Links please? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mensa Babe (675349) on Monday May 23, 2005 @07:59AM (#12610864) Homepage Journal
    Here's a link for anyone wondering what the Tiger Spotlight [apple.com] is. (In short: With Spotlight, you can find anything on your computer as quickly as you type. Search your entire system from one place: Files, emails, contacts, images, calendars and applications appear instantly.)

    (By the way, here's a direct link to the article [scribent.com] in question.)

    Anyway, call me oldfashioned but an Anonymous Coward writing "Spotlight turns out to be a major pain for many users" is hardly the end of the world. Innovative interfaces may be "major pain" for an AC on Slashdot but meanwhile a lot of people in the Real World find it very useful (pun not intended), all the "overhyping in the extremes" (or even overhyping to the max) notwithstanding. Don't like it? Don't use it! Simple as that. Fortunately, as always with Apple, there's more than one way to do it. Do you think that Microsoft's SQL filesystem works better? Use Longhorn then.
    • Re:Links please? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Paradise Pete (33184) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:20AM (#12611198) Journal
      In short: With Spotlight, you can find anything on your computer as quickly as you type.

      Well, I was about to reply to this saying it's bullshit, that spotlight is much slower than that. And of course I wanted some actual numbers to back me up. So I did a search. And I have to admit it really did find things as quickly as I could type it.

      This is a big change from when I first installed 10.4. I don't know if the indexing wasn't complete, or if they made a big improvement in 10.4.1, but now it's really, really useful. I tried several more searches and each was as fast.

      • Whoa, whoa, whoa! Back up. You were about to reply saying it's bullshit, OK, I'm with you that far. What went wrong then? As far as I can tell, you performed some sort of factual verification maneuver? But why?

        What is this "actual numbers to back me up" that you speak of?

        Perhaps it's your low-numbered UID -- I do not comprehend your ways. You have earned my fearful awe and respect, O reality-based one.
    • Re:Links please? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by taskforce (866056)
      I think the idea was that people are having trouble with it because it can't be turned off. I'm sure that even the most hating AC on Slashdot would like to have Spotlight sitting next to his menus if there was no performance hit, but there is a point where the performance hit caused by having an indexing service constantly running unnessecarily in the background and eating your res makes it a bad thing.
  • Can't turn it off? (Score:5, Informative)

    by skinfitz (564041) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:04AM (#12610883) Journal
    System Preferences > Spotlight > Privacy > + > (Choose your hard drives)

    Not exactly 'turning it off' but it does stop it indexing and therefore chewing system performance.
  • I updated to Tiger and Spotlight didn't stop indexing. I mean, after an hour, it said "ok I'm done now", but then one started typing in a query and it restarted with indexing, forgetting your query.

    Then after a few more hours, it sometimes didn't immediately started re-indexing, so results apeared. But they took 30 seconds to appear :-( And if you clicked on "results in a separate window", it started to search again, taking another 20-30 seconds. The separate window allowed to limit results, like "only fro
    • Did you do an upgrade install? A bad idea normally, and especially bad in this case considering the radical changes to the way the file system works.

      I have Tiger successfully running on 800Mhz and 900Mhz G3 iBooks, as well as a dual 1.8Ghz powermac. While Spotlight (and Tiger) fly on the powermac, they are pretty snappy on the iBooks too. My wife even commented on how much faster her iBook was with Tiger.
      • I did an upgrade install and I haven't had any problems, other than isync 2.0, and Dictionary weren't installed. A second upgrade did install them though.

        Spotlight works beautifully. I had to swap a few icons(the old system preference panel kept coming up) but no real problems.
      • Yeah I did an "upgrade" install. Maybe I'll try again with "Archive & Install" to get better results. It's pretty bad that this upgrade business is not absolutely foolproof, imho.
    • by mean pun (717227)
      I updated to Tiger and Spotlight didn't stop indexing. I mean, after an hour, it said "ok I'm done now", but then one started typing in a query and it restarted with indexing, forgetting your query.

      Then after a few more hours, it sometimes didn't immediately started re-indexing, so results apeared. [snip]

      I have seen the same behaviour, but only immediately after I installed Tiger. The problem is, indexing harddisks takes LOTS of time. Twelve hours of work for a 60 GB disk is perfectly reasonable, a

    • Possibly the results depend on how people upgrade? What upgrade options did you use?
      • I don't think updating vs. clean install has any bearing. I did a clean install (I never use the upgrade option with major Mac OS updates, re-format and clean install every time!) and had the same problem he had, more or less. It indexed for about 6 hours, and then said it was done. I tried to use it, it searched for a second and went back into indexing mode and threw out my search. It did this for most of two days until it finally settled down, and it's been okay since.

        I think it's a case of the indexing

  • exceptions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kayen_telva (676872) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:15AM (#12610929)
    cant you just drag the hard drive into the exceptions list and it will permanently stop the indexing ?
    • Yes... that works. What happens with some people using external drives though is they run a clone/backup to the external drive and that deletes the hidden file on the external drive that tells Tiger not o index. So each time you run a clone/backup, then remount the drive Spotlight reiindexes.

      I use psync to backup a nd solved this by creating a root "Backup" directory on the external drive and backing up to that directory. This way the hidden Spotlight file remains intact and Tiger keeps the external drive
  • by mjpaci (33725) * on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:21AM (#12610945) Homepage Journal
    I've had no problems with Spotlight so far. However, I have a 2x 1.8 GHz G5 with 3.5 GBs RAM and one HD and rarely attach external FW drives.


    I've used Spotlight to help me organize my GROWING documents folder. Each and every document I've created since owning my first Macintosh SE in 1989 is in there. It's a mess. I started pulling the low-hanging fruit out first: Invoices and Taxes. Spotlight has been a GREAT help.


    Once O'Reily [oreilly.com] comes out with Spotlight:The Definitive Guide, Spotlight:The Missing Manual, or Spotlight in a Nutshell I will make more effective use of it.


    --Mike


    Shouldn't the "then" in the title be replaced with "than?"

    • No problems with it either, until I tried the tips given in this very tutorial. Not only didn't they work, but Spotlight stopped working, and I had to re-index the drive ! I'll continue using it like I always have done, and where it shines : simple searches. And like you I'll wait for some good book about it.
    • I have to agree: Spotlight is by no means perfect (or mature), but I use it every day with good results. I'm confident enough now to redice my mail archive to a single folder, and I've stopped wasting time arranging my Documents and Pictures directories. Just shove the file in. You'll be able to find it later.

      But, like you, I'm on a dual G5. Am running a striped RAID array and an external USB drive.

      Beats Find.

    • I have no problems with it either, and this is on a 600mhz G3, a wimpy computer by any of today's standards.

      I don't know what's up with these guys... maybe they have a million little files on their computer.
  • Expectations? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gulthek (12570) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:21AM (#12610947) Homepage Journal
    I wonder what the expectations were for anyone that is disappointed by Spotlight.

    I started off my Tiger use by messing around with Spotlight. "Wow, all the emails I ever sent to [name]!" "Cool, any word document that has [project] in title!" etc.

    Then I thought about some of the complex and hard to maintain folder hierarchies I have. The folder system made it generally easy to find my files, but only if I was using them in a manner that I had expected when I started the organization. Spotlight could be the answer, I thought.

    So I took a non-critical directory nest and used my existing folder system and Automator to quickly add spotlight comments to the files. (Select all files in [proj_A directory], add [proj_A] comment to files.)

    Now I could hit command-space and type in a key phrase or two and get all the files in a nice menu. Clicking on "show all" brings up a nice, and constantly updated finder window for the search. Ah, now we're getting somewhere.

    So I created some smart folders based on current criteria (and a few theoretical cases). Woo! Now I have a dynamic directory structure! Add a few custom Automator plug-ins (so I can right click files and do expected actions like "Move file to [dir] and add comment [helpful metadata]".)

    Smart folders (driven by Spotlight) in email is pretty handy also. A couple weeks ago my wife and I were having our yard landscaped. This, naturally, involved a lot of emails back and forth with the landscapers over plant choice, guidelines, schedules, etc. So rather than setup a rule and folder for something temporary; I right clicked on the landscaper's email address and clicked "Create a smart folder". Ta da! Now I don't even have to care where the email goes, any email from the landscapers is all grouped together. When the work was finished, I deleted the smart mailbox and the clutter was gone. I still have their emails in my general sub-inbox should I have to refer to something. All emails and advice are still just a quick spotlight search away. For example: "water magnolia" to find the watering advice for our new tree.

    And then there's iPhoto. With the help of the excellent iPhoto Keyword Assistant [mac.com] I have been diligently adding metadata to all of my digital photos. While KA fixes one of iPhoto's big shortcomings (an awful interface to the keywords, especially if you have a lot); using the keywords was still clunky. You have to start iPhoto, open up a special sub-window and then click on the keywords you want. This interface is barely acceptable when you only have a dozen keywords; when you have five dozen it is quickly painful.

    Spotlight fixes this. It includes searching by iPhoto keyword!* So I can start up a spotlight seach, type "obx sunset" to see all the sunset pictures I've taken at the Outer Banks. Or "munich" for all the pictures of Munich, or "munich cathedrals" ... you get the idea. Sure if you haven't been using keywords until now you have your work cut out for you (although KA again comes to the rescue with a nice interface for adding new keywords). But if you have, then Spotlight is incredibly and totally awesome! Those searches bring up the standard spotlight results page, I can browse the returned pictures and even run a nice slideshow: all without even launching iPhoto!

    * There have been reports of problems with this working for some people, and I was one of them. It seems that when spotlight finishes it major index, it still has some indexing tasks left in the background and iPhoto keywords are one of those. I noticed that a spotlight keyword search only worked partially at first. Any photos I had recently worked on or added were in, and sporadic other photos as well. So I created a keyword called "temp" and added it to every photo, then deleted it. After that all of my photos were indexed.

    Spotlight has even changed how I launch applications. I used to have a dock chock full of any applications I might launch.
    • I guess I was one of those people with high expectations. I was really excited about Spotlight from the time it was first publically unveiled last year. But unfortunately the assumptions I made about what its capabilities should have been were a little too optimistic for a first generation release. Mind you, it's a very impressive technology and will certainly only get better, but it missed the mark on many things I looked forward to doing with it.

      Below is an excerpt of a long blog post I recently wrot

      • Okay. I understand everyone had high hopes for Spotlight, but where exactly did you get the expectation that the Rev1 of this software would be the ultimate soltuion to all search-related problems?

        Really, I want to know, because I know Apple didn't give you this impression. I know that I didn't (and I wrote a ton of rants about how cool Spotlight would be), and I've never seen such an amazingly aggressive outlook on it. So where?

        But the downside is that Spotlight apparently refuses to index files it

    • For example: "water magnolia" to find the watering advice for our new tree.

      I just did the same thing. I highly recommend you checkout micro-irrigation. I just set it up in our backyard. It's easy to install, it's fairly cheap, and it's convenient.

    • And then there's iPhoto. With the help of the excellent iPhoto Keyword Assistant I have been diligently adding metadata to all of my digital photos. While KA fixes one of iPhoto's big shortcomings (an awful interface to the keywords, especially if you have a lot); using the keywords was still clunky. You have to start iPhoto, open up a special sub-window and then click on the keywords you want. This interface is barely acceptable when you only have a dozen keywords; when you have five dozen it is quickly pa
      • Of course I use iPhoto 5. I buy every iLife suite they day its release (iWork is totally awesome too). But nothing beats searching by keyword through spotlight, you don't even have to launch iPhoto. It's perfect for deomonstrating spotlight and os x to the uninitiated.
  • more info (Score:4, Informative)

    by rakerman (409507) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:09AM (#12611153) Homepage Journal
    Macintouch has a report [macintouch.com] with a lot more info.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's poorly documented, but Spotlight is actually more versatile than it looks.

    Indexing takes a long time at first of course, but once it has done all files once, further indexing is incremental. When a file is created, written, moved or deleted, it is indexed at that time. So that happens only one or two files at a time and has little impact. When a volume is mounted though, it has to do some looking to see what changed, and it might have to index a lot of files if there have been a lot of changes.

    To not
  • come on now... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ansleybean (618941)
    if apple had been trumpeting "UNIX SYSADMINS: NEVER USE GREP AGAIN!" then they would have been over-hyping in the extreme. as it is, spotlight is the best answer we currently have to "i saved my thingie and now i can't find it!" syndrome. it has its flaws, and some will be ironed out. what's the big deal? besides, it is possible to turn it off - google for turn spotlight off. done.
  • I've always considered desktop search to be dead on arrival. One of the first thing I figured out how to do on XP was to disable the indexing service. I've tried the Google and Copernic desktop searches and ended up removing both. It's fun for about 10 minutes, but you don't want a lot of indexing going on in the background when you already know where everything is.
  • Disclaimer: I have not tried Spotlight, other than a quick glimpse in the store.
    I have always found Mac's searching capabilities a little weak. I'm very sloppy about tracking my time to bill appropriately as a graphic artist. So when monthly report time rolls around, I simply do a time-based search for every Visible Document Not in System Folder or Library, Whose filename Includes neither Cache nor Prefs, which was Modified this(or last) Month.

    An earlier version of Sherlock worked for me for that for awhil

  • I'll try not to veer off topic too much, but I think this is relevant given the "hype" reference.

    We live in a world that is advertised much differently than it really is. We're all familiar with Steve Jobs' "reality distortion field," but I think he's just a player in a bigger game.

    Everything in our culture tends to be on maximum "hype" drive. It's gotten to the point where we are suffering from a cynical consumer ennui.

    Why?

    I think it's because we've been over-loaded with hype and we're not buying the b
  • How I use Spotlight (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 200_success (623160) on Monday May 23, 2005 @07:48PM (#12618705)

    I find Spotlight useful as a sort of primitive command line. Use Cmd-Space, then enter the name of an application (e.g. "Firefox"), and the app is right there in the menu for you to click on. This is nice, since the traditional methods for launching apps suck (digging through the Applications folder is slow; putting everything in the dock adds clutter).

    Unfortunately, it seems that the search path is limited, and I haven't figured out a way to change it. For example, typing "Kerberos" in the search box fails to locate the ticket manager, which is in /Library/CoreServices. You would think that with all this fancy technology, Spotlight would be able to do everything that the Unix "locate" command can handle, but apparently that is not the case. So, if anyone from Apple is watching this thread, I'd like to offer that as a request for enhancement!

    • I know you'll groan, but "that's a feature, not a bug." For real!

      Most users neither know, nor care what's in their System or Library folders, hence it's not indexed by Spotlight. Personally, I think we should have an option for power users to be able to index it, instead of it being hard wired as out of bounds, but them's the brakes, as the kids say.

      Also, as the other poster said, the best app launcher is quicksilver.
      • It's good to protect the newbies, but not when it unnecessarily cripples the product.

        The problem with your argument is that the novice users would usually not be searching for the technical terms that would turn up results in the System of Library folders anyway. So most of the time it's a non-issue -- there's no need to protect them from anything. But on the rare occasion that they need to look for something on their system, it's not doing them a favor by hiding results that could be helpful and releva

        • You can manually specifiy any directories that you want to be included in the index. By default System, Library, and all of the hidden unix dirs are excluded. You just need to edit a config file to tell spotlight which ones you want to include and then reindex your drive.

          See here [arstechnica.com].
    • Has nobody heard of Butler, for heavens' sake?!

      Butler: [key combo of your choice] + [first few letters of the app you're after] = app launches.

      I find it hard to believe that anybody would be running OS X and -not- have Butler installed. It's even free (although anyone who doesn't donate $18 deserves a week locked in a church with nothing but mormons for company).

      http://www.petermaurer.de/nasi.php?thema=butler&sp rache=english&kopf=labor [petermaurer.de]

      What's *wrong* with you people?...
  • by Nice2Cats (557310) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @04:35AM (#12621430)
    Though it is nice to see a discussion of this and the comments are useful, what is really getting to annoy me are the pseudo-journalist editorial lead-ins:

    Spotlight turns out to be a major pain for many users because it can't be turned off and insists on indexing volumes each time they are mounted.

    Just how did this AC arrive that the "many users" thing? Was there a poll among all Tiger users? How about "some" or "a couple" or "a few" or "one or two guys I just happened to know" instead? Sort of changes the whole story, right? This sort of thing is one of the reasons why people are turning away from the tradition media: They are sick and tired of everything being hyped. Please, just the facts, OK?

    For the record: I use Spotlight on my aging iBook G4 800 MHz and don't see any speed problems. If anything, Tiger is a lot faster than Panther was (and my hardware doesn't even support those nifty Core whatever features). If you are that much into speed tuning, I suggest looking into Gentoo [gentoo.org].

    • Just how did this AC arrive that the "many users" thing? Was there a poll among all Tiger users? How about "some" or "a couple" or "a few" or "one or two guys I just happened to know" instead? Sort of changes the whole story, right? This sort of thing is one of the reasons why people are turning away from the tradition media: They are sick and tired of everything being hyped. Please, just the facts, OK?

      A cursory glance at the Apple Discussions Spotlight forum [apple.com] will show you that there are quite a few grip
  • Please correct the title (Less Than). The error stands out like a, like a, like one of those people complaining about spelling errors all the time. Sorry. Couldn't help it. Please forgive me.
  • ... but one BIG gripe I have about 10.4 is that Finder builds a preview icon of all of my (massive allotment of ) photoshop (5-5.5) files its own damned self, rather than referencing and displaying the actual document icon. I'd be fine with this if it cached the icon, but it doesn't. :P Waiting ten seconds for finder to build a preview when there was already a perfectly good one to work with is extremely counterproductive.
  • "Content indexing is currently four to five times faster than the one of Panther, not limited to the first 100 KB of the documents, not case insensitive, does include all words and all numbers . . . DEVONthink is able to preview found documents (including highlighting of occurrences)." [devon-technologies.com]

    Never mind that DT also shows you related items - love that AI - surfs the web, clips, composes, views images, does the dishes and turns out the lights.

    Are you thinking Mac OS X uber-app? I am. I run my computer and my l
  • I've had Spotlight activate while typing into some forum forms... SUPER ANNOYING. I have tried to figure out how to turn it off. Suggestions welcomed. Thanks.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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