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Spotlight Problems

I finally upgraded to Tiger over the weekend and am having trouble with the new search technology, Spotlight. I was writing up my notes from the last PAASUG meeting last night, and one of the first things I went looking for was a new application called Database Events.

Spotlight could not find it.

Ho-kay, what now? It’s not like I can just use something else to find things. You can’t go back to searching the “old way.” Now there’s only Spotlight. (Actually, I used the Unix command “find” to find what I was looking for, so I found it, but sheesh.)

I thought something might be wrong with Spotlight, and I soon discovered that many people who have upgraded to Tiger (instead of installing it fresh) have had problems with the Spotlight catalog being incomplete or of indexing never finishing. I decided to nuke the index from high orbit, which was the recommended procedure at Macintouch, using sudo mdutil -E /. While the index was being rebuilt, just for fun I searched again for Database Events and found it, so I thought my troubles were over.

When indexing finished, however, I was right back where I started. Nothing found. Like someone who just lost a dollar in a vending machine, I jiggled the Spotlight controls to make sure I was giving it enough “hints.” OK, Spotlight, it’s an application and it’s name begins with "Database Events." Do I have to spell it out for you for crying out loud?!!

Finally I limited my search to the folder that contained what I was looking for. Bingo. Spotlight finally found it. You can perhaps see how this isn’t very useful.

One inescapable conclusion seems to be that Spotlight’s index is apparently sound. The other is that Spotlight just sucks. But I will investigate further.


[UPDATE] Mike Zornek has hipped me to Spotlight's default search locations in a very informative post. That explains most of my problem. I also discovered that Spotlight does not want to index the System folder, which happens to contain the item I was searching for. Knowing this, I can supplement my searches with command-line find and lobby Apple to restore filename searching over the entire drive. Other than that, Spotlight looks to be extremely versatile and powerful.

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