Thursday, 23 August 2012

Why I prefer spotlight to the Dock, but still hate spotlight

Hi Apple.

Spotlight is really annoying - sorry.

1. It indexes inserted flash disks by default. What is the point? It should not index attached disks unless you explicitly say so. Maybe when the person starts typing in the "find" column in the finder, then do the indexing, or just use the unix Find utility underneath. I don't WANT it to index my 1 TB backup drive with +- 1 million files. PLEASE. I know I can drag the icon into "privacy" in the system prefs, but that's a schlep. How about you just make it NOT do that by default, and only make it do that (index) if I try to "find" something on the drive. And anyway, what's with spotlight giving a progress bar while it indexes an external drive? I want to be able to search my internal drive while it is indexing the external. Plus it maxes out the CPU and your average joe user has no idea why his mac is overheating and phones me to ask.

2. I'm very seldom going to keep contents on a flash disk constant. A flash disk is just a piece of junk that I copy stuff onto and GIVE to people or lend to them, and I format/erase it every time. Why waste my time indexing it? Especially when I copy lots of stuff onto it? It just slows my mac down and annoys me and fills the flashdisk with a database file of search results that aren't going to work on their windows(tm) pc anyway!

3. The choices/search results are incredibly annoying. Most of the time, I want to show a file in the finder, not open it, and I want it to show me the most recently found or opened item that matches that string typed. Suggestion: when it shows a found result, make it have a button next to the item saying "show" and another saying "open", or something (eg rightclick the item found and it says "show in finder", leftclick it and it opens it. I realise there are workarounds (open the file, rightclick the title in the titlebar, etc)

--edit: Angelo Kyrilov tells me: "There is a simple way to get it to do what you want. If you hold down the command key while clicking on an item, it shows that item in Finder. I too often find it more useful to find the item's location rather than open it."

4. If I have a folder called 12-01 from december 2001, and a file called 12-01.pages which I made on 1 december 2011, SURELY it should offer the latter file first when I search for 12-01? I get it that it thinks it's a calculation, but ...If I have two files called 12-01, e.g. a spreadsheet, a wordprocessing file, etc., which I just edited a few seconds ago, it should offer the most-recently-modified items first? The same applies to apps. Offer the most-recently opened first.

5. If I type ADOBE, I don't want to see all the cruft that Adobe installs on my filesystem, like the help viewer and the auto updater, I want it to offer Photoshop first, then Acrobat, then Distiller, in the order of what I am most likely going to use. So like with iTunes stars or number of times a track is played, keep track of which are my favourite or most opened apps, and offer them first.

This would be great, because then I could get rid of the dock, which is unusuable, because I have so many app icons and minimised windows that I cannot see what I'm looking for, and always end up giving up and going to spotlight to open something that is actually visible (microscopically) in the dock. Eg at the moment I have 40 icons open - and I'm just surfing. 8gb RAM. Your apps take so long to open that I never quit apps. Now, when I'm working seriously, it gets to about 50 items in the dock including minimized windows. Icon size goes down to about 10-15px. I realise I can enable the magnify effect, but that just makes the icons wobble and move, and hard to hit, and I STILL have to scrub the whole dock to find what I want. I also realise I can turn off magnification, scrub the dock, and see the item names, but that wastes my time, because I have to do an exhaustive search from top to bottom (my dock's right-vertical aligned).

It would just be faster if I could hide the dock and ONLY use spotlight, and it only showed my most recent apps. In fact, the only reason I keep the dock open at all is to drag files into app icons to overrule the suffix app default, e.g if I want to force an html file to open in BBEdit rather than Safari (for just one case).

I ALSO realise there's a "defaults write" hack to enable this in the dock (show most recent items), which helps a little, but the icons it opens are massive and it brings up a scrollbar. Here's a rule of user interface design: avoid scrolling as much as possible. It's horrible and annoying and wastes time. Try show everything at once, tiled, visibly, with file titles. Like the App Launcher thing on iOS that you moved into Lion/MountainLion. Preferably without a paginator - just shrink the icons to a user-defined limit (icon size minimum and numofdisplayeditems maximum being calculated by icon size limit and screen size). IE a version of dashboard/exposé/launchpad/launcher/whatever you want to call it today, that works.

6. Another example, if I type 2012, I expect to find first items CALLED 2012-something (find ./ -name). I have several. it should list all of them, files first, then folders. After that, I expect to see files that CONTAIN the string 2012 (grep) inside them. After that, I expect to see items that I used or opened in 2012 (find ./ -mtime), in most-recent date order first. Surely this makes sense?

7. Why on earth would the find function in the Finder give completely different results? They should be the same. Find in the finder seems to do a grep only, or show date modified only, when I search for 2012. It should come up with the file called 2012, first, then the folder. Moreover, why on earth is its default scope my entire computer? That's ridiculous. Most of the things I'm searching for are either files I misplaced or mis-sorted, or email contents, in my local homedir.

8. Can we use operators in our spotlights/finder searches? If not, why not? If so, where is/are the manual/instructions? Can I say &, |, !, -, etc? I tried it, and it seems to do something weird; it seems to assume, for example, that 2012 is always a date search and never a string filename search. I tried filename:2012 & .pages, and it still didn't bring up my file called 2012.pages. You know, I really miss the Find command from System 7. That rocked.

Thanks for listening.

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