Search For Your Files Across Multiple Cloud Services with Found

As more of our documents get moved off our local drives and into the cloud, it can be difficult to stay on top of them all. I keep stuff scattered around in my Gmail account, Dropbox folder, and laptop, among many other places, and can have a hard time remembering where a particular item is.

The developers of Found recognized this problem and created an interesting solution. Using a search concept similar to Spotlight, Found searches not only your local machine but also common cloud services. Any app designed to help you find files needs to do so quickly, using an intuitive interface. How does Found fare under these important conditions?

The Basics

Found is essentially a way to search for files across your Mac, Dropbox account, and Google services including Gmail and the new Google Drive. You activate the sidebar window that slides out from the side of your screen, type in your search, and you get access to the results. Selecting an item from the search results gives you a preview of the file, and double-clicking opens it.

Setting Up Accounts

Found will, by default and without going through any configuration, search your local drive. Since Spotlight can do that already, you’ll want to connect some accounts. The version that I reviewed was rather light on supported services, though I imagine the developers will being adding more in the future.

The welcome screen when you first launch the app walks you through the setup process.

The welcome screen when you first launch the app walks you through the setup process.

The setup screen is simple and free from extraneous inputs. The local search window, unfortunately, is limited in this release. A window lists the folders that Found searches in, but a disclaimer at the bottom states that custom folders are not yet available.

Dropbox and other cloud services can be connected quickly by entering your login credentials. Again, custom searches would be nice for users with larger Dropbox accounts. I never found the speed of my searches to be slow, but indexing is a bottleneck on speed that could be limited by excluding unnecessary folders.

Adding accounts is easy, but the customization of your searches leaves something to be desired.

Adding accounts is easy, but the customization of your searches leaves something to be desired.

There is support for multiple accounts, so if you use two Gmail accounts, for instance, you can easily add both.

Performance

As I mentioned, Found will index your folders just as Spotlight does. If you’ve ever dealt with sluggish performance due to the “MDS” process on your Mac, you know that indexing can sometimes have an adverse effect on your system’s speed. Found never slowed down my system, but it did take more than half an hour to index all my accounts. While this is happening, you’ll see an animation in the Found window, though no details on the overall progress are displayed.

You'll see an animated bar for each service while it indexes.

You'll see an animated bar for each service while it indexes.

Once indexed, Found does everything with lightning speed. You can either click on the menubar icon to activate the Found window, or double-tap the Control key. For some strange reason, you cannot assign your own shortcut, so you’re stuck with this set up.

Search results are updated in real-time, and are organized by source.

Search results are updated in real-time, and are organized by source.

Once the window slides out, your cursor is already in the search field and ready to go. Below that you’ll see the services you’ve connected to. Once you begin typing, these populate in real time, much like Google’s instant search. The results are organized by service, and you get the file type’s icon, the file name, and file path. When you select a search result, you get a Quick Look at the file. I was very impressed by this app’s speed, as all of this happened very fluidly and without any hiccups.

Criticisms

The first and most irksome issue I ran into was the lack of anchoring for the window. I found that I would sometimes want to have the search window stay open while I navigated to a different Finder window, but clicking outside the Found window automatically hides it. There is no icon anywhere that lets you temporarily force it to stay open.

I’m a big fan of apps that use the menubar instead of the dock for utilities like this, but I don’t like it when you can’t hide it if you choose. Found won’t let you hide the menulet, which would be alright if it had some functionality beyond just launching the window. Utilities like Alfred let you hide both the dock and menu icons, and I’d like to see Found do this as well.

Of course, the biggest deterrent for many users will likely be the lack of support for more services. Granted, Dropbox is very popular and Gmail is one of the most popular email services, but there are dozens of other cloud services that people use to store their files. I assume Found will be including more in the future, but at this point, if you are a Sugarsync, Box.net, Amazon S3, SkyDrive, or any other cloud service user, you may not find this app particularly useful.

Conclusion

While Found is limited by its support for other cloud services, the search performance for Dropbox and Google are lightning fast. The ability to get a quick preview of the file before opening it makes this app worthy of being your primary Spotlight replacement.

Still, it is clear that there is ample room for improvement. Fortunately for the developers, none of the problems I had with Found are things that a single update can’t fix. They have already laid the groundwork for a robust yet easy to use app that has the potential to be the ultimate file search utility.


Summary

A search utility that helps you find your files both locally as well as in common cloud services.

8
  • Dennis

    Great app, I use it every day.

  • cam

    I don’t really understand why they search the cloud, when dropbox and google drive sync your files so that they’re a part of your local system…. Anyone have a specific use case for this? Why is there a need to separate Dropbox and Google Drive from the rest of your local files?

  • Calum Smith

    You can actually preview files in spotlight. Holding Cmd will bring up a quick view tooltip for the selected file.

  • Ryan

    What’s the difference between this and Spotlight?

  • Danny Tam

    For those wondering: Dropbox has selective sync, and I don’t think Gmail can be searched through in Spotlight.

    • Mark Pearl

      It doesn’t search Dropbox in the “cloud”, only those files you sync with via selective sync (and spotlight works for those local files). Due to that limitation, and aside from the Gmail feature, I don’t see any use for this.

  • yeld

    For some reason, Gmail search doesn’t work for me.

  • danny

    you can set a different hotkey using better touch tool

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