Smart Groups -- more filtering options?

I apologize if this has been already discussed, but although I’m loving the Smart Groups to organize my data, I also finding it lacking.

Ex. Imagine that I want to Smart Group all the keynote files that have the string PH08 in their name. Since I cannot choose keynote files on type, I have to choose it on name (.key). But then since I already have a ‘name that matches .key’, I cannot include (also) a ‘name that matches PH08’.

Am I missing something? Is there a way around it that I have not seen?

If indeed this is unsolvable for now, I would suggest a wider choice of file type. Or, better still, the possibility of filtering by extension.

Another thing that would be helpful is the possibility of choosing Groups where not to search.

Use the search syntax (IIRC).

Wow, I didn´t know that it´s possible to use the Search String as a content for the match name field in the smart folder. I love those tweaks. thx.

Yeah, it was something that came out in beta testing that might not be in the docs yet. It’s crazy, really, the amount of customizability it gives (almost as much as regexes but not requiring a higher-level comp sci degree to use).

Thanks for the info — I didn’t know that the Search string worked like that. Cool. :slight_smile:

Still — I’d love to see the possibility of filtering by kind of file (.oo3; .numbers; . pages…) and/or by extension. And also the possibility of excluding sub-groups.

Not sure what this refers to “Use the search syntax (IIRC).” I am trying to collect everything that has a particular word in the title, but in some cases it forms part of the whole name of a file. An example:

Colin McGinn

I create a smart folder with the word ‘McGinn’ as the name. Since I only have ‘matches’ as an option, and not something like ‘contains,’ I can’t get my folder to find the second title ColinMcGinn. I have many files with this kind of situation and I surely don’t want to have to go around changing the names to suit the limited criteria for creating smart folders. I’m used to having other options than merely ‘matches.’ Is this something that will be implemented? ‘matches’ is a pretty limited option for a smart folder, but if it’s merely a matter of waiting a bit till more options are implemented than it’s of course fine for now!


Interesting, how does this syntax work?
I have not used this syntax before, so how could we solve the problem like valente asking about the keynote example?

Appreciate if someone could type step for step instructions to solve this :slight_smile:

Okay, here’s an example. Let’s say that I have a gazillion files in my database but I just want to corral into a smart group files with the following names:


Then you create a smart group and, for the criteria, type [1-9].psd. [1-9] is the series of numbers one through 9, then you have a period and the extension. Doing this without the syntax would take considerably longer. You can make this more complex, for instance by saying My Ninety-Volume Novel #[1-5,7,23,146,57-63]. There are some regular expression tokens.

Edit: I screwed it up. Commas are not recognized, pipes are… If you have zero-padded numbers (01,02,03,…,08,09,10,11…), you can do it like this: #0[1-9]. Tragically, there doesn’t seem to be any way to do, for instance, [10-100] (from 10 to 100). I might be missing something, but I’ve tried a few different things without any luck.

It means use the search syntax in the smart group fields – the same search syntax used in the search field, Advanced Search window, etc. And “If I Remember Correctly”, meaning that I might have misunderstood Christian when he explained why smart groups did not currently have the ability to add multiple criteria for a given field (“name”, etc).

Try McGinn. That’ll also match a document called “McGinnity” or “McGinnity goes to the market”, but I’m not entirely familiar with this search, having never used it. So you can use Colin AND McGinn in the “matches” field.

One thing is for sure: I need to start read through the documentation about the search syntax and get very familiar with it, because I’m sure we’re all going to be seeing a lot more questions like this. I know the syntax is amazingly powerful, but most people are just used to the search syntax and smart groups from, like, iTunes. I love the flexibility, but a lot of people are not going to dig it at first.

But it’s not that tough, once you understand that it’s the search syntax that’s being used, not just straight text. I never used the search syntax for smart groups until I started writing this post…

Thanks, but this is why I stopped using DT Pro in the first place. I definitely don’t dig it, you are right. I’m sure there will be plenty who disagree, but I think it should be much easier to manage smart groups than all of this. A simple option that allows you to select whether a name ‘is’ or ‘contains’ etc. a particular text string would work just fine and be much easier. I’ll look through your post and I do appreciate it. But I’m not sure I want to work this hard to do something that should be simple. I am generally under tremendous pressure to meet deadlines and just don’t have the time to spend trying to figure out the ‘search syntax’ to create a simple smart folder and the like.

It seems to me to be an excellent opportunity for another checkbox in Preferences… (I @#$%ing love preferences…) The default could be a straight “iTunes-like” search where every search term is made from “McGinn” into “McGinn”. Check the “Advanced Search Syntax in Smart Groups” checkbox in Preferences… to allow search geeks to use the powerful syntax. Best of both worlds.

(I agree with the OP and others, though, that there should be multiple fields allowed for each criterion. Typing long search queries into that little-bitty field in the Smart Group editor is no fun at all. Hopefully this will come with compound predicates in the near future. Perhaps someday we’ll be able to perform powerful searches in the Advanced Search window – a much better interface for doing this – and save those searches as smart groups…)

There’s certainly no reason to have this search syntax be the default in, for example, DEVONnote – the vast majority of whose users are not going to be interested in the immense power of the DEVON search syntax. In fact, I could see people not buying DEVONnote because of this. “Stupid app can’t find ANYTHING!” The default should, imho, return TOO MANY matches… not NONE. That way, if people say “I should be able to prune this down better,” then they can look more into the search syntax and say oh, okay, I can do that, and go to Preferences… and select the Advanced Search option for smart groups etc etc etc.

Well, this seemed to work, but there are still files that are not showing up that have McGinn in the title, namely one titled “Colin McGinn, notes.” I used ‘McGinn’ and have no idea why this one would not appear and surely don’t plan to keep messing with search criteria to find out. I hope that this process is made more straightforward. While I’m sure many will find the more complex aspects of the program quite useful, I am quite happy with a simple, straightforward way to get things done.

Thanks again.


Using “McGinn” seemed to work until I noticed a file named “Colin McGinn, notes” was not included. I moved things around within the database and now the supposedly smart folder stopped showing all but one of the files with McGinn in the title. Including files it was showing before and weren’t moved. Makes absolutely no sense at all.

Will try to mess with it later. I would consider this a definite bug or at the least something not working as expected.

Actually I had a problem with one of my smart groups as well: one of the files that should appear did not.

I had to recreate the smart group from scratch and then there it was.

I have no idea why there was a problem before.

I tried recreating and only one file showed up (out of four). No reason for it I can see. Will try later. Really glitchy experience so far.

Probably a bug. That makes no sense to me…

If you look at the Appendix in the application Help, the syntax is actually straightforward. I don’t know why that wouldn’t work as you entered it.