Musings from Mars Banner Image
For Software Addicts: Yes!MaybeNah!
Mars Report:

SpotMeta: Add Those Meta Tags for Spotlight!

Published September 27th, 2010

SpotMeta: Your own Spotlight searchable labeling system

SoftwareOriginally downloaded 4/24/06. See Update from 1/27/07 for the latest on SpotMeta. The following was written in April, 2006. Like a lot of new products or ideas that cause paradigm shifts, Spotlight hasn’t fully taken hold of our consciousness yet. Most of us still think of Spotlight as mainly a search tool, which it is, of course. But Spotlight also is an organization tool. We are so used to filing things in folders that we keep doing it even though we may realize how futile that is.

Why futile? OK, quick… which one of you can remember where you stored that birthday card you made for your son (or daughter) 5 years ago? Well, let’s see… I used to store things like that in ~/Documents/kids/cards, but then I think I stopped and put them in a special folder of Photoshop files called Designs, or something like that…

Me, I’ve got folders out the wazoo and never seem to put something the same place, or I make a temporary place that becomes permanent, orphaning the older like files. You get the picture.

Only, Spotlight doesn’t have any good tools for adding the metadata you’d need to really replace folders as a storage device. Enter SpotMeta. I’ve just started to wrap my mind around this cool tool, but already I see a glimmer of a whole new, better way of doing things.

The first thing I tried was for organizing my applications. In the Applications folder, I have folders for different kinds of applications: Design tools, Programming tools, Search tools, Document tools, Mail tools, System monitoring tools, etc, etc. Though it’s a bit of a pain to maintain, I’ve found this to be better than not organizing the apps at all. (I have too many apps, is my problem!)

Now, this works up to a point. The problem comes when I can’t remember if I put BBEdit in the Programming tools folder or in the Document tools folder. Quicksilver makes having to remember that on a day-to-day basis irrelevant, but when I need to upgrade BBEdit, I have to know where to drop the updated file.

With SpotMeta, you can have it both ways. You can define your own labeling system and then apply it very flexibly to your files through a hot key or a contextual menu. Files can have more than one meta tag, so I can put BBEdit in both Document tools and Programming tools.

Next, I’ll set up a really smart folder based on these meta tags, so I’ll find BBEdit in both folders without having to lift a finger!

That’s one possible scenario, and I’ll be testing SpotMeta, which is out as a free beta at the moment but will eventually charge a fee. SpotMeta is the kind of tool that could help Spotlight live up to its full potential.

Update 1/27/07. SpotMeta remained in evaluation mode since I first spotted it last April, because frankly it didn’t work very well. I tried the first 2 or 3 releases, but SpotMeta just wasn’t reliable in tagging files, and the work involved was greater than the rewards… which I never got to enjoy because I never tagged enough files! Certainly, the prospect of paying for SpotMeta became less enticing as time went on, and I decided to wait and see how it developed.

So imagine my surprise and delight today to discover that SpotMeta has reemerged with a new version and as open source! This will definitely inspire me to download the latest release and try again.

Version as tested: C100R.

Update 9/16/12. Sadly, SpotMeta is no longer in development and was never made available on Leopard or more recent Mac OS X.

  • Google
  • Slashdot
  • Technorati
  • blogmarks
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Mixx

Show Comments
Just Say No To Flash