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Search is a big deal online--just ask Google, Bing, and Siri (literally). But while finding the nearest top-rated pet salon is convenient, some of our most important searches are for the files on our hard drives. Spotlight does a good job finding the proverbial needle in a digital haystack, but it has limitations. Enter Tembo, an app that simplifies searches by organizing results more cleanly than the Finder.
Tembo uses your existing Spotlight database, so searches are fast (although anything you’ve prevented Spotlight from indexing is also invisible to Tembo). Spotlight keyword options like “kind:applications” don’t work, but Tembo-specific keywords and multiple search-string options let you search just for the attributes you’re after. The results are categorized as Documents, PDFs, Images, and more; and while Tembo lacks Spotlight’s Presentations and Spreadsheets categories, it adds some for Evernote, XML, and source code files. Up to 10 top results appear in each category, and sidebar options let you filter them by date and location. You can add custom locations by dragging in Finder folders, and breadcrumbs zip you to a selected item’s enclosing folder with a click.
Category-specific screens let you drill down to sort by file type.
For more results, clicking a file category displays a new screen with up to 2,500 matches of that type.
Most categories have handy sidebar options that narrow results further, like the Images sidebar that sorts by resolution and file type. But switching between two screens to refine searches can be inconvenient. A Finder-like list view lets you sort results by name, date last used, and size (the icon view is much less useful). However you view results, you can preview items with Quick Look or Control-click to email them as attachments, launch Get Info, open files and applications, and more.
But we ran into some issues. A bug in Tembo’s current version (1.7) makes applications opened from search results think they’re opening a file at launch, causing an error message. Some files opened in TextEdit and Preview in OS X 10.7.2 show a permissions warning the first time they’re opened from search results. Combined with the lack of dictionary and web searches, these issues keep Tembo from being a full-time Spotlight replacement.
The bottom line. Tembo has promise. Its search results are quick and easy to read, and its file previews and Finder integration are adequate. But its rough edges detract too much from its convenience.
Mac OS 10.6.6 or later; Spotlight must be enabled
Fast searches. Results neatly organized by file type. Adds sorting options Spotlight lacks.
Refining searches requires switching between two screens. Some bugs.