Question

What are your favorite search tools?

You need a search tool to find stuff online—odds are, Google fills that slot for you.

Then, you need something to find files and software on your computer.

And then, you very well may need a tool to search across your company's SaaS to find random notes and tasks and more across all the software your team uses.

What search tools keep you sane and help you find the content you need everywhere? What's your favorite search stack?

Mentioned
#FYI #Alfred #Search #Notion #Quip #Fibery #Figma
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kanevski's avatar
6 months ago

I'm actually building a product called Slapdash, which happens to solve search really well.

It ships with an OS-wide Command Bar and can do just about everything Alfred can do (launch apps, Clipboard history, snippets, custom scripts, etc.) to control & search your local computer. However, you can also connect your cloud applications and you get super-fast, highly comprehensive results directly in the Command Bar.

One of my favorite features is that when searching for a Notion or Figma doc, the Command Bar will open the item directly in the desktop app if you have it installed.

Even more fun, it's not read-only: file new issues, create leads, start new documents, etc.

3 points
maguay's avatar
6 months ago

Figured I'd kick this off with a few of my favorites:

  • Web Search: Google. I still can't kick my Google habit, try as I have to switch to DuckDuckGo. Old habits die hard. Direct Google search is good enough for most stuff—though it does often seem that if you need something deeper, it's harder to find quality in-depth content on Google than it should be. I rely heavily on site-specific search in Google (e.g. best writing app site:capiche.com), Google's time-focused search to find results in a specific timeframe (they don't always work, but can be handy for finding stuff about older versions of software, for instance), Google's cache (to view now-missing or broken pages), and Google News + Book search again with date parameters (invaluable to find info from earlier than ~2000).
  • Mac search: Alfred. I use Alfred to open software, launch Google searches, and find files all the time. For more detailed file searches, though, I almost always end up using Finder's search with some additional filters. I also use Alfred's text expanding all the time, and its clipboard search tool to grab older things I've copied.
  • Team search: Still don't have a great solution here, partly because short of a Notion API it'd be impossible to search across everything we use. Would be nice though...
2 points
kanevski's avatar
@kanevski (replying to @maguay )
6 months ago

Actually we solved the Notion search problem in Slapdash. We use the unofficial APIs (the same ones they use to build Notion) to build a comprehensive index. The initial set-up is a bit trickier as a result, but it totally works and it feels like magic!

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @kanevski )
6 months ago

Oh wow, super cool. I may have to give that a shot!

1 point
GraceMia's avatar
6 months ago

I might be biased 😇, but at Outmind (outmind.ai) we actually love our shortcut "ctrl + space" to search amongst all our cloud tools (emails, Slack, Gdrive, Trello...). I'd love to hear your thoughts!

2 points
Oshyan's avatar
6 months ago

I'm on Windows here, which seems to be increasingly limiting my choices in some respects...

VoidTools' "Everything" search for local files. Instantaneous, powerful, free. I quickly invoke it with Ctrl-Shift-F.

Web search is definitely Google. I am not super privacy-oriented (I use Google for email and drive as well). What I want are the best results and search tools/customization. Google's advanced operators are decent but not excellent, but I'm not aware of any competitor with both equivalent-or-better results and better search customization/tools. Once you learn some of the advanced Google operators like file type search, date range, reverse image search, etc. you can do pretty well getting what you want, most of the time...

Personal text/notes/docs are a problem because I am currently divided between multiple tools. I started on Quip (Salesforce), which had almost all my text data in it, but wasn't really advancing as a tool and had no proper databases. So I started to move to Notion, but then dev basically stalled and lots of things I hoped for didn't materialize, making me lose a lot of confidence in fully migrating to it. But I had already put some content there, primarily taking advantage of the database functionality, and so there it remains... Then I started using Roam, but weird dev choices, slow development, and dev/community personality frustrations had me looking for alternatives.

Obsidian is where most of my daily notes live these days, but I'm frustrated by the lack of WYSIWYG and databases. I know one of those will come, but the other probably not (aside from hacks like the Dataview plugin...). Meanwhile a lot of older but still useful data still exists in Quip! "Usually" I can recall what tool it is likely to be in, if only by partitioning in time (Quip is older stuff, Obsidian newer) and type (Quip/Obsidian are text, Notion is databases). But it's messy. All of that seems like a tangent (well, it is a bit 😄), but the point is I have 3 major tools where text resides, and no single search interface to connect them.

Then of course there is web browsing, where Google's history and even history search plugins feel pretty painful to use and find anything (far too much "noise" in the results). I am excited for newer tools like Topictrails, Worldbrain's Memex, Synth Browser (https://synth.app/), etc. to hopefully make some sense of my web browsing trails. I'm excited about Promnesia, but it's a little too much work to setup right now I think: https://github.com/karlicoss/promnesia

Anyway, all that is just for personal use! I also use Fibery on a daily basis in my work. This is where the "team" comes in, if at all (which I say because I do the vast majority of the work here). Search there is pretty basic, they're still working on even just full text search (coming soon though, hooray!). But I can also use Eesel sometimes to quickly find something if I'm not already in Fibery (i.e. open new browser tab, search, it might come up).

Will someone unify all this some day? I sure hope so.

2 points
amogh's avatar
6 months ago

Alfred can do lots, especially with power packs (https://www.alfredapp.com/powerpack/) to connect different tools.

It's in plain sight but the address bar in browsers is pretty neat too to refer back to pages.

In the end, I couldn't find a great solution for this which is why we're building eesel. We let you search your work across any app in the browser (Roam, Notion, your internal company tool), and take actions (like making new docs, joining your next call).

2 points
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