Spotlight

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[edit] Overview

Spotlight is Apple's name for their desktop search technology introduced in Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger". Importers are run for various document types that index both metadata and content. Metadata can be things like width and height for images, modification and creation dates, authors, editors, etc. Content is just that - the data inside the document.

There are text file, RTF, Microsoft Word and many many other importers preinstalled on Tiger. This makes Spotlight very interesting for GTD/43Folders type things. It makes your PowerBook an effective collection tool; with a judicious use of text files and some keywords you can search for anything.

[edit] Spotlight Hacks

  • Spotlight can do double duty as an application launcher. First, add custom metadata to your frequently-launched applications by selecting an application in the Finder and choosing "Get Info." In the "Spotlight Comments" field, add a non-standard character such as Ï€ (option-p) or Ã¥ (option-a). (These combos are easy to reach after pressing cmd-space.) When you open Spotlight, immediate type that character and it will quickly build a list of your "launcher" applications. You can put other mnemonic devices into the "Spotlight Comments" field. For example, put Ï€ftp in the "Spotlight Comments" field for your favorite FTP client. Then, when you type "(cmd-space)(opt-p)ftp", your FTP client will launch. You can also create a saved search in your Applications folder for Ï€ (or whatever), thus creating a custom launcher for your Finder sidebar.
  • Use automator: make an automator action which gets the selected files/folders and opens a dialog box to prompt to add spotlight keywords. Save this action as a finder plug-in, and use it to tag batches of files with your custom metadata. Think del.icio.us. This has great potential...
  • Or if you're a Quicksilver user, there are actions that allow you to manipulate Spotlight tags/metadata. Using the first action, Set Comments - part of the File Attribute Actions plugin - you select the file or files, and replace the existing tag with new tags of your choosing. The File Tagging plugin has actions that will let you set, remove oradd to tags to any file or selection of files.

[edit] External Links

Spotlight feature page at Apple

Getting things done with Automator and Spotlight - article about how to use Finder, Automator, Spotlight and Smart folders to organize your work on your Mac.

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