Wednesday, November 16, 2005 [Tweets] [Favorites]

A Dim View of Spotlight

Rob Griffiths (via Pierre Igot):

Once Tiger hit the streets, however, I was less than impressed with the real-world usability of Spotlight, as I discussed in this entry on my personal blog. When I wrote that entry back in May, I focused a fair bit on the interface and the performance. Now that I’ve had several months to adjust to using Spotlight, I’m ready to follow-up with some additional observations gained over the last six months, and some recommendations on what I’d love to see in “version 2.0” of Spotlight. But before that, let’s revisit a few of my first impressions of Tiger’s search technology.

I like the idea of Spotlight, but I’ve turned it off. Trying to search with it would lock up the Finder or the Spotlight menu for minutes at a time, and it would rarely find what I was looking for, anyway. I’ve seen it work well on Macs with a small number of files, but on my main Mac (a dual 2 GHz G5 with 2.5 GB of RAM but lots of files) it’s worse than useless because it slows everything down. Fortunately, Path Finder has a good file search feature.


Couldn't agree more, Spotlight in it's current implementation isn't useful at all ... the only reason why I have it enabled is the file search feature. Which brings me to my next question: I was actually looking a Path Finder earlier today (for a completely different reason), I noticed that version 4 was announced over a year ago and not much seems to have happened the last six months. Is this product still alive?

I'd suggest trying it again on 10.4.3, or perhaps deleting your indexes and letting Spotlight reindex your system. Spotlight works very well for me on a system much slower than yours with hundreds of thousands of files.

Jan: Yes, I'm a tester for Path Finder 4, which is a major update that will be out soon.

Eric: I tried the re-indexing thing several times with previous versions. I'll give it a fresh try on 10.4.3.

I just saw the announcement on their web site ... makes everything much more interesting.

My fresh Spotlight indexing with 10.4.3 started Thursday morning and concluded Saturday morning.

Good News: Now it's working much better than before; most searches take just a few seconds. Searches in the Finder are faster than in Path Finder.

Bad News: The indexer crashed half a dozen times, and it never reported an estimate of the time remaining. The fifth search that I tried should have found a file, but didn't. After returning "No Results Found," it locked up the Spotlight menu. SystemUIServer gobbled hundreds of MB of RAM, and I would have restarted except that I was in the middle of burning a DVD. After about ten minutes, the menu unfroze and displayed the proper list of matching files.

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