Sunday, June 19, 2005

Spotlighting Changes

Are computer changes worth talking about in a blog like this? I guess so, sometimes.

Spotlight, the search enhancement in the latest version of Mac OSX "Tiger", is changing the way I use my computer. For those of you who aren't using it, let me give you a little example.

I have a smart folder named "RecentChanges" that dynamically shows all documents that have changed in the last week in my writing folders. It looks like any folder, with icons and names of the files. I can click to open them, just like a normal folder window. The difference comes in that I can end up with several identical looking Word documents with identical names. This is a real issue right now. I've spent the past few days re-working the 'hook' and the 'pitch' for my last five novels. Previously, there was a 'FallingBakward.doc' file in my 'opus/0093/Working' folder, a 'FallingBakward.doc' file in my 'Synopsis/Hook' folder, and still another one in 'Synopsis/Pitch'. It worked great before spotlight. Now, with the convenience of the 'RecentChanges' folder, it's too confusing, requiring an extra click to see the locations of each of the identical icons.

So, I've started adding more information into the filenames themselves. The novel manuscript is still 'FallingBakward.doc', but the hook is 'FallingBakward_Hook.doc'. I suspect that I will be doing much more of this; adding more descriptive terms into the filenames. I should no longer use the location path to describe the content of the file. It's additional work, but just a little. The benefits of dynamic smart folders more than make up for the effort.

As I get used to the process, I'll be adding many more smart folders. Another that's proving very handy is "RecentApps", a folder containing just the programs I've used in the last week. It's much easier to find a commonly used program in a list of 20-30, rather than in my main Applications folder, which contains 191 items, some of them folders.

Soon, most of my 'click through the nested folders' effort will go away. With Smart folders to consolidate the recent stuff, and using the spotlight search field to ask for hidden ones by name, I'll be able to put the details of my nested file storage out of my mind. I'll still organize things to keep them tidy, but I won't have to remember the details.

My biggest worry will be how to get by when I have to do some task on Windows or one of my older computers that can't run Tiger. That's always the case when something new comes along.

1 comment:

Chris Nystrom said...

I have been holding off on upgrading to Tiger, to let the kinks be worked out. Sounds like I need to upgrade though.