June 12th, 2007 • 10:53 am
To me, this is probably one of the most important “new features” in Leopard:
From the Finder or the menu bar, Spotlight in Leopard lets you search for more specific sets of things. Use Boolean logic to narrow search results by entering “and,” “or,” or “not” into a search request. You can also search for exact phrases (using quotation marks), dates, ranges (using greater than [>] and less than [< ] symbols), absolute dates, and simple calculations.
It might not sound like much to you, but I cannot count the number of times that I have cursed at Spotlight for being unable to find a file that I knew contained a specific phrase, simply because all that Spotlight could do was search for individual keywords, regardless of their respective positions in the phrase.
Google has been doing this for years, and it was about time that Apple woke up and smelled the coffee. Language is more, much more, than a collection of individual words. It’s so obvious that it boggles the mind that Apple didn’t include this in Spotlight indexing from the beginning.
But then, when you look at how long it took the computing industry to actually come up with powerful search engines “for the rest of us,” it’s not really all that surprising…
Of course, I should also note that the above quote is taken from the page about… Leopard’s Finder. In other words, there isn’t a specific page about Spotlight in all the promotional materials about Leopard. To me, a properly working Spotlight is so much more important than, say, the ability to flip through my documents with Cover Flow.
We can only hope that, without making the headlines, Spotlight will still benefit from substantial improvements in Leopard. I see no mention of case-sensitive searches, which probably means that they won’t happen any time soon. But between searches for exact phrases and case-sensitive searches, I would definitely take exact phrases… if I really had to choose!
On the whole, my impression with Leopard is that there is definitely going to be a lot of “minor” improvements, more like fine-tuning what we already have than introducing a whole new paradigm.
That is somewhat disappointing for those of us who are still waiting for the next big breakthrough in personal computing, but in the mean time, I will definitely take an improved Mac OS X with more attention to detail and more attention paid to documents as opposed to applications. Maybe we’ll finally get to a true document-centric user interface through gradual improvements, rather than one big quantum leap.
Don’t know about that 3D Dock and the “elegant arc” (sic) of files jumping out of stacks, though… Last time I checked, my computer screen was still flat, and rectangular, not curvy and 3D. An “elegant arc” is not going to take me to where I want to go any faster…