How to Search with Advanced Queries
Collecting things is usually a fairly easy thing to do. Just look at your attic, basement, or garage. The hard part comes in finding something in all that stuff. With DEVONthink, building a database of information and documents is also easy to do but, unlike our real-world examples, the finding is much easier.
DEVONthink has always been well known for its powerful search capabilities. And when version 3 was released, it debuted search prefixes which function like Spotlight’s search prefixes. For example, you can restrict your search to names starting with “sync” by using
name:<sync or look for only email messages via
kind:email. String together multiple prefixes in a single search and you can fine-tune your searches to a degree not possible in version 2.
However, perhaps you’re a more visual person or maybe you don’t recall the specific prefix and the operators that work with it. If you execute a search, under the toolbar you’ll see the Path and Information bars and the search bar beneath that. On the right side you’ll see a button marked Advanced. Clicking on this button displays the criteria editor, similar to what is shown in smart groups and smart rules.
Here you can visually add criteria to refine your search terms. Just click the plus (+) button to add or minus (-) button to remove criteria. You can also hold the Option key and the buttons will show an ellipsis (…), allowing you to specify sub-criteria. With these controls, you can create very simple or very complex searches. And the eagle-eyed out there will also notice the search field in the toolbar reflects the search prefixes you could type in manually, if desired. This is a helpful way to learn the syntax or troubleshoot the prefixes you’ve typed in.
As a bonus, you can click the Save button to save a smart group with the specified search terms and criteria. If you are searching within a database it will save a local smart group; otherwise it will create a global smart group.
Check out the manual or built-in documentation (Help > Documentation > Appendix > Search Prefixes) for the prefixes available and some examples. Happy searching!