One of my favorite features of Mac OS X 10.5 is the ability to save Spotlight searches as smart folders in the Finder. If you’ve never played with Spotlight, click here to read my Getting Started article on Spotlight Searches. If you consistently search for the same type of files (say, all of the photos you’ve imported over the last month), the Saved Search folders can be time savers, as they’ll always be there to show you the files you want.
One of the biggest shortcomings of the Saved Search folders is that you can only see them in the Sidebar in the Finder. Of course, it’s likely that you want to see them from other applications, like Mail, Word, or Photoshop. If you go to the File menu in any of those applications, and click on Open…, your Open dialog box’s Sidebar will not show you the “Search For” items that are found in the Finder’s Sidebar.
There is nothing you can do to get the “Search for” tab to appear, but there is a way to trick the operating system into showing you the results you want, provided that you have created the Saved Search folder. Here’s how:
Copying the Saved Search Folder
The first photo above showed a Saved Search folder in the “Search for” tab called “Recently Attached.” You may or may not have Saved Search folders in the Sidebar, but by default, you can find all of your Saved Search folders in your user account’s Library folder. In there, there’s a folder called “Saved Searches” that contains a file that the Spotlight command for your Saved Search. Here’s what that folder looks like (yours will vary):
Because the Finder view Saved Searches as folders, you can put the Saved Search folder of your choice into the Places tab in the Sidebar. Simply drag the folder to the spot in the “Places” Sidebar that you want. If you already have the Saved Search in the “Search For” Sidebar, you can’t simply drag the folder from that spot, but you can hold down the Option key and drag from the “Search For” Sidebar to the “Places” Sidebar.
Because the “Places” Sidebar is available from Open and Save dialog boxes, you will now be able to see your search results from within any application!
Did this hint work for you? Do you have a better way of seeing Spotlight searches in other applications? Let others know in the comments.