Pinpoint Lost Files With Spotlaser

Spotlaser logoIt’s a hard thing to admit, but there are times when I remember features I had on Windows and wish I could use them on my Mac. These are very, very rare times, mind you, but they do exist. One of them is the search in Windows XP. Though it is slow, it can be much more precise than Spotlight when it comes to finding that one little lost file. The good news is that the freeware app Spotlaser exists to bring this kind of focused search and the speed of Spotlight together.

The Spotlaser interface is very friendly and intuitive, giving you every option Spotlight does, and many more. Those that are annoyed by Spotlight’s lack of boolean operators and custom options will certainly be happy with Spotlaser, which allows you to search for items that match any terms, all terms, or exact phrases with no trouble at all. In addition, you can search within specific parts of the file (filename, content, metadata, etc.) or for specific types of files or file sizes.

Spotlight does offer a bit of control over a search time frame, but Spotlaser reigns supreme here, too. Say you know you were writing a document sometime between Christmas and the middle of January. Spotlight can only search either the past month, which won’t find your document, or the past year, which might give you tons more than you want to sort through. With Spotlaser, you can search by those specific dates and precisely find that document.

Spotlaser user interface

Finally, delivering the knockout to Spotlight, Spotlaser can save any searches you make with it as smart folders, allowing you to go back and view your results over and over again. The one downside I found to Spotlaser, though, is that it doesn’t currently search mail messages. I imagine this feature will be added in the future, and it’s only a minor flaw in an otherwise great little app. I also wished Spotlaser could replace Spotlight completely in OS X, but I imagine that would be quite an undertaking, so I can see why the feature’s not there.

Spotlaser is available here for the low, low price of completley free!


31 Responses to “Pinpoint Lost Files With Spotlaser”

  1. Yohannes Wijaya on February 28th, 2007 6:50 am

    @Josh, I never came across this app b4. Nice you let the world about this particular app. The only 2 i know are houdahspot & Moru but they are shareware. Thanks 4 sharing. Will try it for a size.

  2. Miles Evans on February 28th, 2007 9:22 am

    Very informative as usual sir ;)

  3. Rebby Brarbs on February 28th, 2007 9:22 am

    I thought this sort of search functionality was built into …Finder. If you select Finder with Alt-Tab, and press command+f, a find window pops up where you can specify search criteria…Just a thought.

  4. John Baker on February 28th, 2007 11:55 am


    True, but I personally think the Spotlaser interface is a lot nicer and easier to navigate rather than having to specify a bunch of regular expressions.

  5. Yohannes Wijaya on February 28th, 2007 1:13 pm

    i suspect spotlight on leopard should have some of these capabilities and more.

  6. Indraneel on February 28th, 2007 3:08 pm


  7. alej744 on February 28th, 2007 5:56 pm

    Wow that’s awesome.

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  9. Joe on February 28th, 2007 9:28 pm

    I hate to be negative, but I’ll do it. :)

    Has anyone actually tested this thing? A friend and I have the same issue on two different macs. Using SpotLaser, I search for “budget” — I got 8 results, some of which have the word “angel” in the filename. Next I type “angel” in SpotLaser’s “Without the words” field and search again, 8 results. THE SAME RESULTS. What gives? Is the “Without the words” field broken? Can anyone verify this?

  10. Rennervater on February 28th, 2007 11:09 pm

    It puts any windows search function to shame :P

  11. John Baker on March 1st, 2007 9:08 pm


    I didn’t have any of those types of issues, but as I said I did have a few problems with the app, mainly involving mail messages. I still think it’s important to feature Spotlaser, though, because no doubt it will continue to improve with more users.

  12. Jason on March 3rd, 2007 3:48 am

    Hi eveyone,

    I’m the developer of Spotlaser. I’d like to say thanks to all those who have offered kind words in regards to Spotlaser.
    For those who are having issues, I would love to hear from you so we can work out the issues you are reporting. I’m more than willing to help.
    Sure, finder has the ability to do searches for the same stuff, but you have to add individual options and dig through the interface to find them. Also Spotlaser adds the ability to search for files where you don’t know the exact size, with an “Approximately” selection for file size.
    As for searching for mail messages, this has been explicitly left out for the reason that Finder currently has issues in displaying the search results for mail (and also iCal events). Finder shows .elmx files and not the subject of the message, making the results effectively useless.
    Thanks again everyone.


    Jason @ frovil heavy industries

  13. RazorSharp iPods & Raw Gadgets » Spotlaser: Reinterface with Spotlight on March 4th, 2007 11:37 am

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  14. Webagogue » Blog Archive » links for 2007-04-13 on April 13th, 2007 5:40 am

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    Thanks for point out this great bit of software.

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    Yeah, the whole design was done by myself. Thanks for the compliment!

    Jason @ frovil heavy industries

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