Searching nested documents in smart group

I have a smart group that locates all the groups in a database called “Correspondence.” It then nests those groups (and their contents) so that I can easily traverse all of the correspondence in one place.

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In DT2, I could set the scope of a search to the Correspondence smart group, and it would search the documents nested in each Correspondence sub-group. When I do the same with DT3, it does not search the nested documents. It only searches the group names, which in this case is always “Correspondence” and that doesn’t do me any good.

So how can I tell DT3 to search everything in the smart group, not just the first-level group names?

The proposed search doesn’t make logical sense.

If the smart group is only matching groups named Correspondence, there would be nothing more to match since the documents aren’t part of the smart group.

Development would have to assess this.

I understand what you are saying, but it did work in DT2 as described. I set it up like this long ago because it isn’t possible to build a smart group based on the parent group of a document (i.e., all documents inside a parent group called “Correspondence”). And because I exclude groups from tagging, I can’t do a search for documents with tags called “Correspondence.” So this is the only way to do it, afaik.

I can’t remember whether this really worked that way but if it did then it was a bug. Searching inside a smart group means that only those items matching both the search & smart group criteria should be returned. And the criteria exclude documents.

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If you see it as a bug, then I would ask for a non-bug alternative. Would it be possible to add the ability to create smart groups with the option of filtering documents based on the name of a parent group (either a direct parent, or any parent in the chain)? If groups and tags are fundamentally the same thing in DT, this should be easy to do.

One possibility would be to enable inherited tags of groups (see File > Database Properties). Then add a special tag to these groups and just use the conditions Name matches … and Tag is …

Or replicate all of these groups to a new group, then restrict the smart group’s search scope to this group. In this case the condition Name matches … should be sufficient.

Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately, I think their shortcomings make them undesirable for this scenario. The most glaring shortcoming is that they both require manual intervention for a process that could be completely automated. I have to remember to add the tag, or replicate the group, every time I create a new group. This particular group is one of my most used: I have hundreds and create new ones all the time. I’m going to miss one if I have to insert a manual step into the process.

The second shortcoming is that both options just seem unnecessarily complicated. Enabling group tag inheritance works, of course, but it is redundant. I have to add a “Correspondence” tag to every “Correspondence” group. Yikes.

Which brings me back to my previous question: Is there a technical reason for not providing “Parent Group Name” as a search filter? I’ve had many situations come up over the years where this would be useful. Since it’s not an option, I’ve had to come up with alternatives. But why not offer this feature to avoid all these work arounds?

A smart rule could do this.

The only reasons are usually priorities & resources. But it’s noted.

A smart rule, per Criss’ suggestion…

Note: File > Database Properties should have Inherit Tags of Groups enabled.

Process (1.2 KB)

I will chime in here. Having the IN-BUILT ability to build nested searches to go inside the contents of smart groups will significantly enhance the flexibility of DT.

Smart Group TT
→ All content in database X where content matches TT
Smart Group PDFs in TT
→ All documents in Smart Group TT that are PDFs
Smart Group Demos in TT
→ All documents in Smart Group TT that have file extensions aaa
Smart Group Presentations in TT
→ All documents in Smart Group TT that have file extensions ppt

It tracks also on the need in the posting that I made recently here.

As it is now, if I find any additional terms to add in the first Smart Group TT, I have to propagate those terms in each of the other smart groups, either with AppleScript programming or a smart rule manipulation. For the number of times that I have to do this same process, I am not adept enough to continually have to do undertake either of the two alternative options with patience or proficiency.


You can’t create smart grops that search other smart groups. However, you can search a smart group by selecting the smart group in the Navigate sidebar, entering search terms in the toolbar search, and setting the scope to the selected smart group.

Someday I might hope to see this restriction disappear.