Apple’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion includes its Spotlight search tool, so why do you need to buy a third-party program named Find Any File ($7.99) when you can simply type Cmd-spacebar, type in a few letters, and let Spotlight find it? Three answers: First is that Spotlight can’t find many files on your disk, especially those in system folders, other users’ home folders, or OS X’s “packages,” which look like files but are really folders. Second is that Find Any File displays its search results in a clearer and more useful way than Spotlight does. Third is that Find Any File lets you narrow down your search in ways that you may not have thought possible. I don’t like spending money on utility software, but I was happy to buy Find Any File.
How it Works
Find Any File finds files by name, not content, so if I’m looking for words inside a document, I go to Spotlight. If I’m looking for files by name, I go to Find Any File. I can limit the search to files with names that begin or end in specific strings, or that are invisible in the Finder, or are in the Trash, or inside packages, or that are not aliases, or any combination of these and other conditions. By holding down the Option key when clicking the Find button, I can make Find Any File search the entire hard disk, including all the hidden places that Spotlight won’t touch.
One of the many ways I use Find Any File is to clear out every trace of apps that I’ve tried and deleted. All I need to do is enter the name of the app or its vendor in Find Any File’s search field, hold down the Option key when clicking Find so that it searches the entire disk, and lists every space-wasting receipt and preference file created by the deleted app. I can simply delete them from Find Any File’s results window. Another feature I like is the ability to save a complex set of search specifications (name, dates, file size, etc.) to a file that acts as a kind of search shortcut—just double-click the file, and it runs the search in Find Any File.
Why it Works
Find Any File is fast, because it uses a catalog file that’s constantly updated by OS X. If you remember the “Find file…” feature in the “Classic,” pre-OS X, days of the Mac, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of how Find Any File works. When Apple made the transition from “Classic” to OS X, it provided an API for accessing a Classic-style file catalog even though OS X itself didn’t make use of it. (Spotlight is a different technology.) Find Any File is one of the few programs that takes advantage of it. Another is the freeware EasyFind, which also searches content but is less elegant and usable than Find Any File. Thomas Tempelmann, the author of Find Any File, actually recommends EasyFind as an alternative, and I think you should have both.
If you make heavy use of your Mac for fun or for work—or both—then Find Any File is an essential tool, and a clear Editors’ Choice for Mac Utilities.
More Utilities Reviews:
|OS Compatibility||Mac OS|
|Type||Business, Personal, Professional|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc