Leopard tamers: 9 terrific interface tweaks

With a host of new tools and add-ons available, changing the look and feel of Mac OS X 'Leopard' is easy

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Add canned searches to the Finder sidebar

The Search For section in the Finder's sidebar in Leopard gives you convenient access to any number of Spotlight searches. Apple packages a handful of these into the sidebar by default, including searches for all files modified on today's date or within the past week.

As helpful as these searches may be, adding custom searches to the sidebar can make this feature even better. Any Spotlight search can be saved to the Finder's sidebar.

To create a detailed Spotlight search, use the Find command from the Finder's File menu (or the Command-F keyboard shortcut). You can designate specific locations to search and whether to search the contents of files or just their file names.

You can also string searches together from a variety of file metadata -- information that is appended to files by applications, the file system and Spotlight itself.

The most common options to search for, beyond a simple string of text contained in file names or contents, include the type of file and the date a file was created or last modified.

Select "Other" in the search criteria pop-up menu to choose from a treasure trove of additional possibilities, including:

  • The file label assigned to items in the Finder
  • The album or artist information assigned in iTunes
  • Support for specific foreign languages in items
  • The number of pages in a document
  • All manner of information included by digital cameras, such as camera model or whether a flash was used
building a search

Defining a Spotlight search. Click to view larger image.

To build a search that relies on multiple criteria (all image files that were created in the last month, for example), hold down the Option key as you're making your selections.

To save a search for later use, click the Save button in the upper-left of the search window and in the Save dialog, choose to add it to the sidebar.

saving a search

Saving a Spotlight search to the sidebar. Click to view larger image.

If you want access to more searches in the sidebar, but don't want to expend the time and effort to create them yourself, you're in luck. Apple ships a number of prepackaged Spotlight searches with Leopard that don't appear in the sidebar by default; these can be added to the sidebar in a few easy steps.

  1. In the Finder, select your startup drive and navigate to System/Library/Core Services.
  2. Control-click (or right-click if you have a two-button mouse) on Finder inside this folder and select Show Package Contents.
  3. In the folder that opens, navigate to the CannedSearches folder inside Contents/Resources. Here you'll find a list of predefined searches such as All Applications, All Images and All Music.
  4. Unfortunately, you can't drag these directly to the sidebar; instead, control-click any that you want, select Show Package Contents, and copy the search.SavedSearch file to your desktop. Rename that file something more descriptive (such as "All Music") and drag it to the Finder sidebar.
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