Accessing unmounted media catalogs

Reader Ryan Shore loves his FireWire drives but would prefer to not connect them all when searching for an archived file. He writes:

Over the years I have acquired a number of external FireWire hard drives that I use for archiving past projects. I believe I’m up to about 17 FireWire drives of data. I like keeping them unconnected to the computer and stored away from the computer, for safety sake. However, I would still like to be able to search the directories of the drives so that I know what information I have, and on which drive that information can be found.

Since the contents of those drives don’t really change—I just occasionally connect them when I need to access a file from them—is there a program available that can create a directory file of a drive and save it locally on my computer (much like the way Spotlight will remember the contents of your hard drive) for drives that are not connected to my computer?

For this sort of thing I use Norbert Doerner’s $30 CDFinder. Despite its “disc-only” sounding name, CDFinder can catalog any disk (or disc) you plug into your Mac. The resulting catalog—which is stored on a local volume—can then be searched for the contents of a cataloged volume or disc, regardless of whether that volume or disc is currently mounted.

You can search not only by an item’s name, but by Version, Comment, Any Text, Size, Duration, Kind, Creation Date, Modification Date, Filetype, Creator, Audio, Photo, IPTC, EXIF, and Label. CDFinder can also restrict its searches to local volumes’ Spotlight directory.

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