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MoRU - Spotlight done right Pick of the Week
MoRU imageThe macosxhints Rating:
9 of 10
[Score: 9 out of 10]
Tiger only hintI've made no secret concerning my feelings about Spotlight. As a short summary, I think it's amazing technology with a badly crippled user interface, at least for those who want to do more than "find everything." Enter MoRU, which macosxhints' reader Michael Dinsmore pointed me towards. MoRU is an application designed to let you do more, a lot more, with the power of Spotlight.

MoRU lets you extend Spotlight by searching for things as you wished you could out of the box. Using its interface, it's very simple to build complex queries that simply aren't possible using Spotlight alone. Consider this (somewhate contrived) query: find every Photoshop document in my 2003 and 2005 site redesign folders that is between 100KB and 200KB in size. In Spotlight, I'd be stuck right off the bat, as I couldn't use it to search two folders using an 'or' condition, and then have some other 'and' conditions. In fact, you can't even search two folders at once using Spotlight. In MoRU, though, this is a snap (click the image for a larger version):


As you can see, the Location section is an 'or' condition (added by clicking the + sign next to the first location entry), while the following conditions are 'and' (added by clicking the Add item at lower left). As noted, this is somewhat contrived, but it shows the power of MoRU. The "Type" pop-up is a lot more flexible than Spotlight's, too, with numerous predefined options, as well as an "extract type from dropped file" choice.

Here's a more practical example to consider. I want to find all the Macworld articles I've written where I discuss the Unix command du. My Spotlight query (and results) are seen in the leftmost image below (click for larger). Those of you who understand Spotlight won't be surprised to see that it found 991 matches. That's because Spotlight can't match partial words, so it also found every document containing the words dual, during, duplicate, and many others. Ugh. Clearly not what I wanted.

Now consider the same query in MoRU, as seen below right. Since MoRU has an "exact match" option, my query returned only the nine articles in which I have actually written about the du command. Perfect!


I've barely scratched the surface of MoRU's options here, and I'm actually writing a longer piece on it for Macworld's site, if you want to read more about it (it should be done in the next week or so). MoRU isn't quite perfect; the user interface is a bit odd (you can't delete a search folder by hitting Delete, for instance, only by clicking the minus button), and it hung up when doing a large search on a friend's machine (though I've had no issues). Overal, though, it's a very well written program that does what Spotlight should have done on its own.

It's somewhat painful to pay $10 (or $18 for more than one Mac) for functionality that Apple should have included with 10.4, but that's Apple's fault, not that of the developer. I've already saved a ton of time hunting down old column references, so the money spent has been well worth it. (There's a free 30-day-trial period, so you can test it out for yourself first.)
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MoRU - Spotlight done right | 30 comments | Create New Account
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NotLight?
Authored by: hamarkus on Feb 28, '06 12:37:20PM

How does this compare with NotLight?



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NotLight?
Authored by: sjk on Mar 03, '06 11:48:29AM

You'll probably discover the answer by attempting Rob's MoRU example with NotLight, which will only cost your time to try. :-)



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: dille on Feb 28, '06 12:47:32PM

And what's wrong with the way you can specify searches in the Finder? You know, by just going to the Finder and hitting CMD+F? You can specify as many options as you like, so the examples you gave are perfectly possible. It's still SpotLight, so you can save it to smart folders like there's no tomorrow, you don't have to install and pay for another app, it plays nice with all SpotLight-y things.

Or am I missing something fundamental here?



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: dille on Feb 28, '06 12:51:57PM

...oh, and don't forget the Advanced Advanced options you get when you specify "other" search criteria! You can look for *any* piece of info SpotLight cares to store, including file name, creator, exif info, layers in OmniGraffle documents, MP3 encoding bitrate, pixel height and width... and the list goes on and on!

Ahem. Anyway, sorry about the replying to myself. =]



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: robg on Feb 28, '06 01:20:56PM

I think you're missing something here. Please build me a query to find documents that contain only the exact string 'du,' and not 'during' or 'durable' or any other 'du...' word.

And try to build a search in the Finder to search two, and only two, folders at the same time, while attaching a series of additional conditions, some of which are "OR" conditions and some of which are "AND" conditions.

It's just not possible, unless you want to work in Raw Query mode and have a depth of knoweldge of KMDItem types ... unless I'm the one who's missing something now! :)

-rob.



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: alfrank on Feb 28, '06 02:43:35PM

To find exact words you just have to add " in front, i.e. "du !



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: murph on Feb 28, '06 04:25:50PM

Well, searching user selected folders is actually quite easy. Let's say you want to search 2 and only 2 specific folders and nothing else. In the finder, command-f to bring up the finder's spotlight search dialog, then choose "other" for the search location. In the sheet that appears, uncheck your hard drive (or whatever may be there that is checked) and drag and drop the specific folder(s) (in this example 2 folders) into the sheet. When done, the portion of the finder window that shows "computer" "home" etc will update to show it's searching "2 places" Very simple.

Insofar as and/or search queries, my understanding is that is the search Spotlight defaults to. If I type "bob ray" (without the quotes) spotlight will search for docs that have bob in them, ray in them, and both bob and ray in them.

For searching specific terms, use quotes. "Lib" will search for docs that contain lib exactly and not include results where lib is partially extracted from a word, i.e., library.

Spotlight works fine for me right out of the box.



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: ewelch on Feb 28, '06 07:42:33PM

Works for me. I just put an alias to the "Saved Searches" folder in the Library on my dock so I can get to all of my saved searches ASAP.

Thanks for saving me $10!

---
Eric

Ernest Hemingway's writing reminds me of the farting of an old horse. - E.B. White



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: simbalala on Feb 28, '06 08:09:00PM

I don't feel that MoRU replaces Spotlight, it enhances it and the Finder search. (It's much nicer than the Finder Search.)

I still use Spotlight for simple searches, MoRU is too bulky for me to leave it running constantly. Sure you can do without it but it has some nice features.



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: bkemper on Mar 03, '06 09:11:04AM
Insofar as and/or search queries, my understanding is that is the search Spotlight defaults to. If I type "bob ray" (without the quotes) spotlight will search for docs that have bob in them, ray in them, and both bob and ray in them.
If you are correct, then the author may have had it backwards, but the point is the same: you end up with too many irrelevant results that way. If you just want documents with both "bob" and "ray" in them, what do you do? What if you want documents with either "bob" or "ray", but that also must include "Carol"?

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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: philcozz on Mar 15, '06 10:59:48AM

I just did this using standard smart search features and duplicated the results in MoRU.

Step 1:
Kind = others (specifically, "Microsoft Entourage message pointer" thanks to the new 11.2.3 update!).

Step 2:
Contents = a|b c

This gave me 56 Entourage e-mails that contained either "a" OR "b" in the content AND "c"

When I created the smart group in MoRU to do the same, I got 56 e-mails.

I am not saying that MoRU isn't a good product, I just saw this as a challenge to figure out if I could do this!

Best.



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: philcozz on Mar 15, '06 11:09:30AM

Now, how to do "a" or "b" without "c" ?





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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: nmerriam on Feb 28, '06 01:27:55PM

how do you put in logical operators like OR or AND in there? Having me search for one thing at a time in a smart folder is pretty useless, I need a folder that collects a number of things defined by different criteria like name is "bob" OR name is "jane".



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: Cameroon on Feb 28, '06 04:15:32PM

What about file locations of the "AND NOT" variety?

I really don't want searches to (almost) ever look inside the "~/Library/Caches" directory, yet I'm stuck searching that unless I include all the directories that I do want to search.



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: tykepenguin on Mar 01, '06 01:42:57AM

I emailed the developer about this (he's very helpful) and NOT functionality is being worked on and should be in the next release.



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: murph on Mar 01, '06 02:00:38AM

If "(almost) never" is to be taken literally, then it sounds like your user library caches file is a good candidate for inclusion in the privacy section of Spotlight's preferences (located in system preferences). Just open Spotlight's preference pane, select the privacy tab, then drag the caches folder into it.

From the moment forward, Spotlight will ignore that folder. If a time comes when you need to search it (or include it in a search), remove it (select the folder and click the minus sign) and your good to go. When you're done drag the folder back into the privacy pane again.



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excluding ~/Library/Caches
Authored by: sjk on Mar 03, '06 12:12:07PM

My untested theory is that adding ~/Library/Caches to Spotlight Privacy preferences will cause Safari bookmarks, iCal events, and other items referenced with files in the Metadata subfolder to be excluded from Spotlight searches.



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excluding ~/Library/Caches
Authored by: Grommet on Sep 01, '06 01:47:08PM

No, your Safari bookmarks are kept in ~/Library/Safari
and your iCal events are kept in ~/Library/Application Support/iCal

The Caches folder can be safely added to the Spotlight Privacy tab.



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MoRU - Spotlight done right
Authored by: simbalala on Feb 28, '06 04:47:32PM

At my suggestion Jeremy added a feature or two.

The Unload Smart Group which I believe is in 1.2 and a File Size Column which you can find in a pre-release version of 1.3 here:

http://www.windstormsoftware.com/wssw/downloads/MoRU1.3a.dmg

I asked him if I could post the pre-release link and he OK'd it as long as I mentioned it was a pre-release. (It's quite stable)



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hidden files
Authored by: bakalite on Mar 01, '06 09:05:45AM

It sure would be convenient if one could get spotlight to find files like .config. and so on.

All in all I prefer the way searches worked before spotlight. I also hate the fact that it puts so much load on the system. Basically, searching your own system just encourages lazyness. If you keep your stuff organized, you don't need to search, just navigate to the right folder and find it. Once in a blue moon you loose a file, so you do a search and find it. Spotlight assumes that you are too stupid to do this, so it basically keeps track of where everything is on your system, including all your cache files, and all the other junk you never look at. What a huge waste of resources!

The few times I look for something, it's usually some hidden file that I'm too lazy to look for in the terminal, and then it doesn't work. Brilliant!



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hidden files
Authored by: syko on Mar 01, '06 09:35:29AM

There should be both options availble- panther style and spotlight style
I terribly miss the panther style where I could type in any name into a Finder windoiw and have it search within that Folder I was in...

SIGH

I realllllllllly hope that all of you that complain have filed a bug/suggestion report to Apple.



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hidden files
Authored by: Grommet on Sep 01, '06 01:50:42PM

"I terribly miss the panther style where I could type in any name into a Finder windoiw and have it search within that Folder I was in... "

Works fine for me under Tiger, the only thing that changed is that you need to click 'Folder "blah"' to make it stick to the folder you're currently browsing. Once. After that, it remembers that you chose that option and will default to whatever folder you're browsing.

Good luck.



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Metadata With Content Indexing?
Authored by: Gigacorpse on Mar 01, '06 05:38:15PM

Can Spotlight be configured to be able to work without actually indexing the content of files? I like Spotlight comments but I am simply uninterested in indexing the contents of my files.



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Metadata With Content Indexing?
Authored by: magnamous on Apr 01, '06 11:58:00PM

This was possible in 10.3, where you could index certain folders or drives of your choosing, or do content searches without the index. I tried using the content search a few times without any indexing (it seemed to be broken on my installation of 10.3), and it was so slow as to be unusable. The index really does seem to be necessary for content searches to be useful.



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MoRU - Spotlight done right - EXCELLENT!
Authored by: Deut3221 on Mar 03, '06 10:17:11AM

This is a great hint! Took me about 5 minutes to decide to buy. Developer very responsive to suggested improvements. Thanks for the tip.
-s



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contextual text searching for 10.3.9?
Authored by: tracey on Mar 21, '06 02:49:49AM

Hi - I'm working on a powerbook G3, and using OS 10.3.9.

I miss that great file search program Ultrafind designed for OS 9, because I often need to search a keyword in dozens or a hundred documents, but I don't have Tiger to use Notlight, which also shows searched keywords in their one line context.

Can anyone recommend a software solution to searching files, or is my only option to upgrade to 10.4?

Thanks!



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contextual text searching for 10.3.9?
Authored by: sjk on Mar 21, '06 03:23:42PM
DEVONtechnology's EasyFind is a free search utility that many people like and recommend.

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contextual text searching for 10.3.9?
Authored by: tracey on Mar 23, '06 05:29:20AM

Thanks for the suggestion. I just tried Easyfind and it works well for finding files, but I needed something that will return a line of text from a text file with my word in the middle, not just the file name. This is useful for finding the exact piece of information you need, from multiple sources, like searching all of classical literature for the name "Hercules".

In case any one else is looking for a similar function I am now trying the demo version of Foxtrot (which costs $29) which looks like it indexes and performs this type of search, though in my experience not too quickly. However, the files have to be 'previewed' manually in a slider, one at a time, rather than the program returning results in the main window.



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contextual text searching for 10.3.9?
Authored by: sjk on Mar 23, '06 03:56:35PM

Thanks for the more detailed explanation of what you're looking for. I was also going to suggest Foxtrot but you've already discovered and tried that.

Unless I'm missing something, NotLight only displays filenames (like EasyFind) and not any context within matching files of search results.



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yet another option ...
Authored by: sjk on Mar 23, '06 04:58:50PM
If/when you upgrade to 10.4 there's an example of what I think you're trying to do in MacSlash | Using Spotlight In Terminal.app:

mdfind -onlyin ~ -0 password | xargs -0 fgrep -H -n "password"

It's a powerful combination using mdfind (Spotlight) to quickly find files, then fgrep to display matching content within them. Different varieties of contextual search results could be produced with different options for those commands plus other post-processing refinements. Many possibilities.

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