I have tried many desktop searching applications such as Alfred, Quicksilver and Launcher. They are all great apps. Of course, I use Alfred every day. But, these all apps rely on Apple’s (spotlight) indexing mechanism. They really don’t offer a true alternative to the desktop searching system; they just repack it in another form. If Apple’s Spotlight fails to index and search a specific folder, all the others fail too, as they are dependent on it. Due to this dependency, I was having trouble to search some folders in my external hard disk and even inside my mac pc too. They call can not search external NTFS disk, neither do they inside a software package. They all suck.
I use a reference manager called Sente. It saves the PDF attachments inside its bundle (package). Hence, none of the apps were able to search my PDF files inside the library bundle. Frustrating!
Finally, after some diging, I discovered a solution. It is called Easyfind, another app from Devonthechnologies, developers of Devonthink and DEVONagen. Easyfind is another master piece, that very few people understood its secret. When I was using windows, I never used the default windows search tool; it was sluggish and causes my pc to hang. The whole idea of indexing for searching seems uninteresting to me. For me, the best approach is; renaming the file properly, and searching it by its name…fast and efficient. That is how the windows app, my favorite and the fastest of its kind, called Everything works. The same is true for EasyFind. They don’t rely on the systems index method; rather they search the files based on the file names, with the speed of light.
I am really happy that Easyfind exists. It is a brilliant tool to search in areas that the spotlight couldn’t index; inside package contents, invisible files and folders, specific/targeted folders, external hard disks ect.
A true alternative to Spotlight!
If you don’t have the habit of renaming your files with proper keywords, however, the approach taken by EasyFind might not be the right way. You have to rely on the indexing power of applications. For that matter, Spotlight and its extensions, such as Alfred, Quicksilver or houdahspot might serve your needs. The problem with the Spotlight is, as I have mentioned above, it has limited scope. It can index only a limited number of files, always excluding software bundles (packages). So, if you really need a spotlight alternative that can index files, I think, the best and only alternative is FoxTrot search tool. FoxTrot is a powerful searching too, with Devonthink-like search engine. It even seems better than DT in some searches. It can go deep into the heart of your computer and pick the tiniest kind of information that you never though of its existence. It puts the results according to their relevance to your search query; shows your files in its preview window, can delimit the index folders and so many other things. Even if the app is a bit pricy, 40$ for the personal version, and 120$ for the professional versions, it is the best mac desktop searching software I have ever tried.
Another true alternative!