The Metadata Project – An Update


Yesterday was a month from the start of my Metadata-centric Experiment. Those eagle-eyed readers amongst you watched it come and go with nary a word from me – I apologize folks.

To Recap:
For a month now I’ve been dumping everything into an empty Documents folder. No directory structure to speak of what-so-ever. However, I’ve been tagging all my files (in the Spotlight Comments) accordingly. My intent being that I can quickly pull up the precise file(s) I want with a Spotlight Query, or with generalized Smart Folders that I can tweak to fulfill my data-mining needs.

Well I’ve decided to extend the project a little longer, and for a couple reasons:
1 – It seems to be working for me. Stick with what works, right?
By ‘working for me’ this is what I mean:
I’ve been successful in making a habit of tagging all my files to even work with this experiment. (Basically I save all my files to the desktop, tag them (using Quicksilver) and then move them to Documents (using Quicksilver).)
Also using Quicksilver, I can type in the tag I’m looking for and it’ll pop up a Smart Folder – on the fly no less – with all the appropriately tagged items. I find it quicker than using the Spotlight bar…
Or, if you’re a widgets person, check out the TagBag widget. It’ll show you all your Spotlight Tags (with a count) in a handy little Dashboard view.
So yes – to answer Kyle semi-directly – It is making it faster for me at this point. I’m not clicking through Finder Folders to get to my files. I DON’T use the Spotlight search bar as the results pane is horrendous, but Quicksilver’s method of returning what I need is lightning fast and produces a desirable result to work with.
2 – As my PowerBook isn’t my main [work] computer, it doesn’t see the bulk of my file-creation efforts. I want to make sure I’m getting a good test-bed of ‘stuff’ (to use a technical term) to really see if there’s a true usefullness from metadata-only over a structured folder hierarchy.

So stay tuned readers. As I progress, I’d like to dive a little deeper into the experiment too. I’m toying with adding some applescript capabilities, labels, and possibly even some Automator type aids. I want to see how much I can make my computer do for me, removing as much need for me to think or do anything as possible. I don’t want to do anything.

To quote Peter from Office Space, “I did absolutely nothing – and it was everything I thought it could be!”

Actually, now that I think about it, I think what I’m actually looking for is a way to fully bypass having to use the Finder. And based on the many gripes with the Finder’s state at this point in time, is that such a revelation??


Nick Santilli

Kyle – back when I first tried Quicksilver, I gave it a day and dumped it. Then I revisited it for a good week to 2 weeks. And I MADE myself use it to see what the deal was.

Go read these to get up and running really quickly with QS:

they get progressively more intense with the amount they teach you, so take them as you’re comfortable. They’re GREAT for QS beginners. Really show you the light, so to speak.

You won’t be the same after, I promise.


I tried getting on-board the Quicksilver train, but it just didn’t feel comfortable for me. I probably didn’t give it enough time — which, I suspect, is the same reason I can’t play piano :-)

But it might be time for me to try again. Thanks for the post.


Ooooh, you just gave me an idea: to create an automator workflow as an folder action to the Desktop. So, when a file is saved there it

-shows me the “add spotlight comments field”
-move the file to the “documents” folder”
-allows me to chose between “overwrite” and “keep old version”.

Man, i gotta go back home to try this!

On an unrelated note: this live preview is very nice! How you did it?

Nick Santilli

Hey Kyle –
Sorry for being so obtuse there.
I’m updating the post to reflect some details that should better answer your questions.


You said that it seems to be working from you, but I’m interested in knowing about HOW it is working for you.

Do you find that you are more efficient?
Do you find the files faster through Spotlight than through a more structured folder system – for example, is it faster to scan through a list of Spotlight search results for that one single file name than it was to just “go where you put it” in the structured system?
Do you spend more time trying to figure out what a file was originally for than you did when you had higher-level folders to contextualize it for you?
Do you ever use the Finder, or do you work solely through Spotlight?

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