Excluding items when searching

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Reader Steve Good isn’t feeling so good about the Finder’s ability to find—or, in this case, exclude—files. He writes:

I want to find all the images on my Mac not in iPhoto, and all music not in iTunes. I don’t want to automatically add them; I want to find them. The Finder’s Find command (and OS X) seems completely incapable of excluding a location (i.e look everywhere except the iPhoto Library folder and its interior folders). Since this seems beyond OS X, what’s the shareware app to use?

It’s not completely beyond OS X. Just open the Spotlight system preference, click the Privacy tab, navigate to your user folder in the Finder, and drag the folders or items you’d like to exclude into the Privacy window—in your case the iTunes folder and iPhoto Library package. When you next conduct a Spotlight or Finder search, you’ll find all items except those within the iTunes folder and iPhoto Library.

If you’re looking for a utility that allows you to do this kind of thing without turning to Spotlight’s preferences, check out Houdah Software’s €15 HoudaSpot 2.1 (Leopard-only). Rob Griffiths bestowed four mice on HoudaSpot 2 early last month, and for good reason. It allows you to create custom searches based on Spotlight data that are otherwise impossible. Among its many charms is the ability to easily exclude folders and their contents from your searches. If you’re running Leopard, it’s definitely worth a look.

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