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Found search utility for OS X review

Sections: Mac Software, Reviews, System Utilities

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Provides: OS X file search
Developer: Found Software
System Requirements: OS X 10.6.8 or later
Price: Free
Availability: Out now

Found is without equivocation the fastest file search engine I’ve ever used on a Mac, and it’s free to boot. Consequently, there’s not a whole lot not to like, although I do have a few criticisms qualified by bearing in mind that it’s very early in the life of this little program that its developers describe as “A deliciously simple app for finding your everything.” That actually sums it up quite nicely.

The Found Software, Inc. team also say they’re working toward developing Windows, iPhone, and iPad versions of Found. Meanwhile, it’s OS X only, for which Found provides fast, intuitive search results from files stored on your Mac as well as personal cloud services, including Dropbox, Google Drive/Docs, and Gmail (attachments). You can configure as many Cloud accounts as you like (including multiple Gmail acccounts) by entering your username(s) and password(s.

Installing Found, which is available for free on the Mac App Store, places a little icon in our increasingly crowded menulet bar from which the app can be accessed. But the slickest way to bring it forward is with a double-press or tap of the Control key. That toggles displays of the Found palette into which you type your search keyword(s), and results are produced almost instantaneously, complete with likewise instant full-sized previews of nearly any type of file highlighted in the results, including Cloud-stored files. A second double tap of Control hides the Found palette.

Therein lies the first of my (hopefully constructive) criticisms. The full-size previews are great, but it would be even greater if we had the option of dismissing or at least hiding them for access to the Desktop. I know the Desktop is increasingly regarded as passé in this iOSsifiying world, but some of us still depend on it. Just a suggestion. Previews are non-editable.

Other features of Found include being able to get back to a file you just downloaded or were recently typing in by simply entering a few characters, and you can also drag and drop files from your search results into local folders as copies or into email messages as attachments. Part of Found’s prodigious speed is attributable to the fact that all of its searching is done locally on your Mac with no remote server involved.

As explained by the developers, Found works by running an immediately responsive character-by-character search, with partial word prefixes being sufficient in most instances (whole word entry is rarely necessary). For example, typing the three letters “mov” will bring up results for “movie,” “move,” and “moving.” No cryptic Boolean operators need to be remembered; plain English will do nicely. Found indexes each file’s name, path, and, if applicable, email from/to/subject fields or Google Drive/Docs last-modified-by name.

This is all very cool, and the speed with which Found produces results is uncanny. So what about other bones I have to pick with this app? Well, documentation is miserable, even with the bar set as low as it regrettably is these days. Found is pretty easy to use and there isn’t a whole lot to learn due to the program’s simple and focused nature, but a PDF quick start guide or, even better, a Help function would, well, be helpful. Instead, there is an introductory video that covers the broad strokes.

Another grumble is that content needs to be in your User account folder(s) in order to be searched by Found and included in results. And unlike with Spotlight, your entire hard drive is not searched. I suppose that’s a security/privacy safeguard for multi-user machines, but I have stuff scattered all over my hard drive, with plenty of archived documents stored in the top level of the hard drive folder outside my User account. Moving copies of these folders and files into my user account folder makes them searchable by Found, but that’s tedious. There should be some way to configure support for searches of anything on a local volume and not just what’s in your user account, but there isn’t, at least that I could find (see complaint about the lack of documentation above).

Those shortcomings noted, I still have become addicted to Found in short order. My rating is probably a bit generous at Found’s current state of development, but this app has a ton of potential and I look forward to its evolution.

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