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  1. #1
    glennosx is offline Registered User
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    Question Spotlight: any way see file sizes and locations??

    Specific example of a very common general scenario: I'm searching for an instruction manual on my computer. I have a lot of product brochures and one manual from the same company, all with similar names. No idea which is the manual, but I do know that when I run a Spotlight search, the manual will be the one with the large file size.

    Except for some inexplicable reason, Spotlight won't show you the file sizes of all the results! This is absolutely bizarre OS behavior. I have to Get Info of each one, which is laborious. And it's hard to compare them, as you have to match each Info window with each file name back in the Spotlight results.

    This process is next to impossible when trying to compare a very large number of documents or video clips, etc.

    Similar usability issue when you need to easily and quickly compare where a bunch of files you've searched for are all located. Can't do it on a Mac. (This is sadly one of those areas where Windows has long been easier and simpler than Mac.)

    I understand the $39 "Path Finder" application can add these functions, but it introduces other limitations that matter to me. So, is there ANY way to sort by size and location in OSX (10.6.2)?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    DeltaMac is online now Tech
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    You can add a size sort in a few seconds, by clicking a (+) and selecting what you need from the drop-downs, or choose 'other' in that drop-down for a large variety of other search criteria.

    Why would you need to show where a file is located? A simple smart folder will keep those files, regardless of their actual location. That's a useful trick from Spotlight.

    You can also command click on any set of files in a search window, and look at info for all of those items simultaneously. It will fill up your screen quickly with info windows - but I don't know if I would call it 'laborious' exactly...

    If you need some help in discovering some more of the options for using Spotlight, I'm sure someone here can help you in a variety of different ways.
    Serendipity is a lucky guess !

  3. #3
    glennosx is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for your reply, and please pardon this very long clarification, but I wanted to be, well, clearer.

    Quote Originally Posted by DeltaMac View Post
    You can add a size sort in a few seconds, by clicking a (+) and selecting what you need from the drop-downs, or choose 'other' in that drop-down for a large variety of other search criteria.
    I know about that, but that method doesn't help in many situations (including the one I described, as I didn't have any clue what the sizes might be ahead of time... I could only know which one I needed by looking at them all in a results list and comparing).

    What's needed is a "Size" column so you can instantly see the size of every item -- AND also sort by size at the tap of a button if you need to, and resort by name, date or whatever other attribute is most useful, at the tap of another button. It's very often helpful to be able to compare all the sizes at once.

    E.g., you search for a bunch of video clips and need to know how large each is at a glance -- and there are too many to use "Get Info" on all of them (perhaps there are hundreds or thousands). What you really need is an at-a-glance comparative look at all their actual sizes in one list.

    Or, perhaps you're trying to free up disk space, and want to see the sizes of many, many items of particular kinds. You're not sure in advance what sizes you're going to deal with, so searching for a particular size from the outset isn't an option. You need to see all their sizes in the list in order to make informed decisions.

    There are countless other daily situations in which having a size column -- and one that's sortable -- is very useful. There's no good workaround that I know of (apart from Path Finder), but I'm still hoping someone knows of one. Or that Apple finally adds it.

    The Size column already exists for regular Finder windows. It's simply a grayed out option when it's a Spotlight window, for some strange reason. It shouldn't be.

    Quote Originally Posted by DeltaMac View Post
    Why would you need to show where a file is located? A simple smart folder will keep those files, regardless of their actual location. That's a useful trick from Spotlight.
    It's often extremely useful to know where the items in your search results are located -- and to be able to group those items by location in the results list.

    E.g., perhaps you're looking for a bunch of fonts. When you get your Spotlight results, it may be helpful to group them by location so you can figure out at a glance where each is residing, and compare the groupings or their other attributes. With a Location column (like Windows has), you can see all the fonts that are residing in each different location, all at once, and you can easily compare those groups and decide what you want to do with them based on location. You can also switch back and forth to sorting by name, size or whatever's most useful as you go, at the tap of a button.

    Or, let's say you're searching for a bunch of documents you've written that are involved with various different projects. You may want to know which different projects all the docs are a part of, and the only way to do that all at once is with a Locations column. You may not remember the folder names/paths offhand, so doing a search BY location wouldn't be possible. (And even if it were, that still wouldn't show you all the docs in one list, grouped by location.) A Locations column can show you where everything resides in one simple list, thus instantly revealing which project each item is a part of. And you can also dynamically reorganize that list however else it's most useful.

    Or another example: you search for all the images or video clips that have a particular keyword or word in their name, and you want to see all the different folders you've stored them in, since the different folders have different purposes. If you had a Location column, you could instantly do so, and group them by location so you could focus just on those that reside in the locations you're most interested in. This also doesn't require remembering all the locations you might be interested before you run your search, and it doesn't require typing all those locations into the search parameters ahead of time. Also, with hundreds of results, having to click on each one to see its location noted in the path bar is both inefficient and inconvenient. A Location column would be far faster and more useful (with more options). You'd be able to see all their locations at once in the results window, noted right in line with the names instead of having to keep looking down at the bottom of the window and then back up, one at a time.

    Or another (similar) example: you search for some images or video clips by the only keyword you can remember them by, and get a list of hundreds of results. You know that the ones you're interested in were only involved with a handful of projects, or would only be in certain locations, but can't think of all those projects or locations until you actually see the list.

    One more example off the top of my head: you search for a file or kind of file and are surprised to see many copies show up in the results list. Having all of their locations visible at once in the list greatly speeds up figuring this out.

    Again, there are countless other situations in which a Location column proves very useful and time-saving.

    Smart folders unfortunately don't solve the problem. They don't give you an ability to see all the locations at once of your search results, or the ability to dynamically resort by location, so you can group items as you review the search results.


    Quote Originally Posted by DeltaMac View Post
    You can also command click on any set of files in a search window, and look at info for all of those items simultaneously. It will fill up your screen quickly with info windows - but I don't know if I would call it 'laborious' exactly...
    I definitely call it laborious. If you opened a lot of Info windows, you have to look all over the screen at different windows instead of instantly glancing at a single results list where you can compare the relevant/useful info in one neatly organized table.

    While the method you describe is useful in some instances, you can only have so many Info windows open before they start overlapping your Spotlight window -- and each other (even on a 30" display). Moreover, they're separate from your results list, so you have to first look at all the different Info windows, try to compare the data you're interested in on each (much slower than looking down a neat, columned list), and then when you find the file(s) you're interested in working with, you have to scroll back through the Spotlight window to find the item(s) that match the filename(s) in the Info windows. Then you also have to close all of those Info windows. It's an utterly inefficient way to work. Glancing down a simple, columned list (that you can work with and dynamically reorganize) is far, far less laborious.

    Quote Originally Posted by DeltaMac View Post
    If you need some help in discovering some more of the options for using Spotlight, I'm sure someone here can help you in a variety of different ways.
    Thanks, I appreciate it... though I am familiar with them. None of the 150+ attributes you can search by solves this issue, since none of them give you Size and Location columns that you can review, and sort by. That is what's missing.

    Again, sorry for my verbosity. Hope that helps clarify.

  4. #4
    DeltaMac is online now Tech
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    Serendipity is a lucky guess !

  5. #5
    glennosx is offline Registered User
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    Thank you for the suggestions, I'll look into them to see if they do the job well.

    (Still might not be a sufficient solution, since another add-on, Path Finder, apparently does a great job fixing these and other Finder deficiencies, yet introduces other issues due to limitations OSX imposes. For example, the "Put Back" feature of the Trash folder only works with items you've deleted from within Finder. It won't even work with items you've deleted from other Apple applications, like iPhoto or iTunes, and apparently doesn't work with third party Finder/Spotlight replacements. It's a feature I often need, and often I'll delete items from a search results list, especially if I was searching for files I may want to trash. As an aside, Apple is unfortunately deceptive in how they advertise the much-publicized Put Back feature. Nothing -- not even Help -- warns you that it doesn't work universally as one would obviously expect (and as its Windows analogue always has). A real bummer, since its [re]introduction to the Mac OS was one of the reasons I finally switched. Oh, well, still love my Mac!)

  6. #6
    157tom is offline Registered User
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    A couple of answers to

    There is an easy answer that you might like.
    It's called NotLight and is freeware by Marr Neuburg; see his web page.
    http://www.tidbits.com/matt/
    It gives sizes and paths, and results can be sorted on these.

    I used it extensively on Tiger because Spotlight for some reason was abysmally slow on my set-up. I think Matt has stopped developing Notlight (shame) but I still use it regularly on Leopard 10.5.8 as a complement to Spotlight.

    An alternative is to use disc cataloguing software. If you have Toast there's free cataloging software included. I also use shareware DiskTracker. Admittedly the catalogues are of file names only, not contents, and take time to prepare, several minutes, and are only snapshots of the disk contents at the time they were updated. But they are cleverer and faster on searches and
    give you file and folder sizes immediately. [Moan; why is the finder so slow to give sizes!]

  7. #7
    mastorer is offline Registered User
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    I'm basically asking the same question because it looks like all the above dialog is pre-Lion..
    Perhaps my memory is faulty, but I seem to recall that Spotlight used to give the path to the sought item.. perhaps with a tool tip? (which most annoyingly are not copyable and are often long and hard to memorize on the fly).
    In any case, my Spotlight certainly doesn't show a file's path now.
    I'm not very good with Mac short cuts and tricks, so possibly I simply don't have some feature set up properly.

    Moreover, once Spotlight finds the file you seek and you let it open it, you still don't get an opportunity to learn where it lives for the next time around, because as far as I know, 'Get Info' only works by calling it on the file's icon, not on the open file itself.

    I find it hard to believe Lion contains such an oversight, so assume I'm unaware of some feature and just need to learn how to make the right setting...
    Help, anyone?

 

 

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