Spotlight, Not Entirely A Perfect Search Tool

/ 9 January 2007

Though this function (new in 10.4.0) was at the time (and still is) one of the best new features of 10.4, it’s not entirely perfect, here are some reasons for this. First off, some macs with less memory (not mine, but one that I know have) can’t use it as fast as it’s purpose is meant for it. Also, every time you plug in an external memory device (hard disks mainly), Spotlight needs to index the drive for it’s searching. And that process can be long and will slow down searching on the internal boot drive while it’s indexing the external one. It also technically isn’t searching your entire boot drive, I’ve noticed that if I search for “.kext” then everything but the actual kernel extensions show up, thus it’s not searching the “System” folder. I doubt that it’s searching any of the hidden files either. Of course, it is now at the heart of all searching on Mac OS X, so in the respect, the system is partially based on it’s functionality. The nice features of it is the ability to tell it not to index/ search specific folders and volumes, however, on the volumes side of that you have under a minute to add a external device to that list before Spotlight goes and indexes it for you. The other good feature of Spotlight is what’s called “Spotlight Plug-ins” that allow you to write enhancers for it to enable extended searching in 3rd-Party apps and 3rd-Party plug-ins/ components/ bundles, etc. Of course, out of all the macs that people own, only about 4% have not enough memory to search using Spotlight, and next to nobody will be searching for something that’s a hidden file or part of the system directly. So in the end, Spotlight is a good “overall” feature in Mac OS X 10.4.x, but there are some flaws that Apple could fix for 10.5.x’s Spotlight.