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New Apple document details Spotlight search queries

Apple provides technical details of its forthcoming Spotlight technology in a new public developer documentation.

Apple Computer on Tuesday published to its developer Web site an in-depth technical document on its forthcoming meta-data driven search technology. The document, titled "Working with Spotlight," covers the Spotlight Store—a file system-level database that holds all of the meta-data attributes about the files, as well as an index of their contents—and provides tips on examining meta-data.

More interesting, however, is a discussion of Spotlight search queries and their presence throughout the next-generation Mac operating system.

"The ability to create queries, and get a list of files in response to those queries, is what allows Spotlight to transcend the typical behavior of a file system and enables you to build a totally new category of applications," the document reads, in part.


"One of the best ways to find examples of complex queries is to use the Finder. Build a query using the Finder's Find feature and then save it. Then, navigate to the Saved Searches folder in your Home folder. You'll see the saved search as a Smart Folder. Get Info about the folder and you'll see the query nicely listed for you to examine."

According to the document, Tiger will also ship with several meta-data importers for a variety of common file formats as well as all the important file formats used by Apple's applications such as iTunes and the Address Book. A partial list of file formats includes: JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and GIF images; MP3 and AAC audio files; QuickTime movies; PDF files; Microsoft Word and Excel documents; iChat transcripts; Email messages; Address Book contacts; and iCal calendar files.

Over this past weekend, Apple provided its developers with the first new build of Tiger since its World Wide Developers Conference in June.