Search! – Start Here

(! = top-level material. OAS18001 – see this for a bit on tips on how to possibly improve search efficiency.)

The INTENTION of this page is being an entry-point, top-level page, to all aspects around ‘search’, ‘searching’, …

See also

  • macOS-focus – which is also the page with lots of different applications for searches are discussed.

Access to ‘Search’, Usability, Ease-of-use, …


How easy it can be to access a Search-feature.

  • on macOS
    • (STD) Command–Space bar: Show or hide the Spotlight search field. To perform a Spotlight search from a Finder window, press Command–Option–Space bar. (If you use multiple input sources to type in different languages, these shortcuts change input sources instead of showing Spotlight. Learn how to change a conflicting keyboard shortcut.)
    • (CUSTOM) Shift-Command–Space bar: toggle HoudaSpot search field ###
      • NOTE… Does NOT work in Google Chrome (Aug 2022)…. Seems to be some conflict unique to Chrome, as DO work fine in other tried apps, like Finder, Safari, Preview, Mail


Way of accessing search engine Examples Autocomplete (AC) / Features Notes
1. Go to site
2. Start typing search (search field is in focus when page has loaded)
The norm IS having AC, to provide feedback on possible findings on the fly as user types search term.
1. Go to site
2. HAVE TO set focus into search field… (use mouse)
3. Start typing search
  • does NOT have AC…
  • AC: Yes (OneDrive, by MS)
1. Go to site
2. Press ‘/’
3. Start typing search
  • AC: Yes (Confluence)
  • AC: Yes (Dropbox)
  • AC: Yes (Google Drive)


Applications for Searching

Currently kept in macOS-focus section.

Best Practices

18 Ecommerce Site Search Best Practices For 2021 –, written 2021.06.20, retrieved 2021-08-15:

  1. How Natural Language Processing Improves Search Accuracy And Understanding
  2. Data Processing Plays A Big Role In Ecommerce Search Experience
  3. Distinguish Between Synonyms
  4. Transliteration To And From Other Alphabets
  5. Anticipating The User’s Search With Autocomplete/Autosuggest
  6. Accommodate Typos With Spellcheck
  7. No Zero Results Page
  8. Optimized For Mobile Search
  9. Contextual Filtering For Easier Prioritization Of Products
  10. Merchandising Your Search Results
  11. AI Assistant
  12. Personalized Ecommerce Search
  13. Ecommerce Search Performance That Can Adapt Based On Analytics Data
  14. Delivering Results Quickly
  15. Voice Search
  16. Image Search
  17. Improving Ecommerce Search Is A Continuous And Ongoing Process
  18. Auditing Search Regularly


Cloud-Based File-Focused Solutions (Dropbox, Google Drive, MS OneDrive, …)


What Can / Will Be Found

mbp17:$ -c

Case Off/
Test file Spotlight,
local DtS
web [go]
web [go]
Google Drive
web [go]
web [go]
1. Local FS offl 909 = 909 4.0K = 4.0K SearchTest 1 Local FS.txt Yes No N/A[1] No ?
2 Dropbox, Personal offl 909 = 909 4.0K = 4.0K SearchTest 2a Dropbox, Local file (Personal acct).txt Yes Yes -“- No  
3 Dropbox, Personal
onl 0 * 909 oB = 0B SearchTest 2b Dropbox, Online Only (Personal acct).txt No Yes! -“- No  
    Dropbox cache:  35M $HOME/Dropbox (Personal)/.dropbox.cache
4 Dropbox, Business onl (Not found on this system.) No Yes -“- No  
5 Apple iCloud offl 909 = 909 4.0K = 4.0K SearchTest 3 Apple iCloud.txt Yes No -“- No  
6 Google Drive offl 909 = 909 4.0K(a) ! 4.0K(b) SearchTest 4 Google Drive, Available Offline.txt
*) 4.0K on both remote disk (du command)(a) AND/PLUS local disk (in cache)(b)
  ## -“- Yes  
    Google cache: 6.7G /Users/johan/Library/Application Support/Google/DriveFS
7 Google Drive onl 907 = 907 4.0K ! 0 SearchTest 4 Google Drive, Online only.txt No ## -“- Yes  
8 MS OneDrive
offl (Not found on this system.) Yes ## -“- No  

[1] Apple iCloud web interface doesn’t have any search mechanism…. (Aug 2021)

Details of used test files, identical file created in a number of different locations, and some tweaks of attributes like ‘Online Only’/other name (which – so far, Aug 2021 – MUST be done manually using (e.g.) Finder contextual menu (no CLI tools found for any drive, yet):

=== START (this line is NOT part of file contents) ============================, v1.1 2021-08-17, (C) 2021 COMGT/JOHSAR

This is a test file for document searches, on desktop.

Same content, as below, with changes in
1. Filename
2. Online/Offline sync status (if apply, terminology, and function vary depending on cloud service)

SearchTest! 1   SEARCH217010    offl SearchTest 1 Local FS.txt
SearchTest! 2a  SEARCH21702A    offl SearchTest 2a Dropbox, Local file (Personal acct).txt
SearchTest! 2b  SEARCH21702B    onl  SearchTest 2b Dropbox, Online Only (Personal acct).txt
SearchTest! 2c  SEARCH21702C    onl  SearchTest 2c Dropbox, Online Only (Business acct).txt
SearchTest! 3   SEARCH217030    offl SearchTest 3 Apple iCloud.txt
SearchTest! 4a  SEARCH21704A    offl SearchTest 4a Google Drive, Available Offline.txt
SearchTest! 4b  SEARCH21704B    onl  SearchTest 4b Google Drive, Online only.txt
SearchTest! 5   SEARCH217050    offl SearchTest 5 MS OneDrive.txt
=== END (this line is NOT part of file contents) ==============================


  1. Regular local file system
  2. Dropbox, personal account
  3. Dropbox, business account
  4. Apple iCloud, (in $HOME/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~TextEdit/Documents/)
  5. Google Drive (in $HOME/Google Drive/), which can be link to Volumes/GoogleDrive/)
  6. Microsoft OneDrive (in $HOME/OneDrive/)


if exist/apply
QuickLook Finder Web
Apple File system (Finder std) Yeah… Duh! Yes Local N/A
Apple iCloud cloud storage (Finder std) Yes – ‘iCloud Drive Yes
Dropbox Yes – ‘Dropbox Finder Extension $HOME/Dropbox/
Google Drive No Yes – ‘Google Drive $HOME/Google Drive/
Microsoft OneDrive Yes –  ‘OneDrive Finder integration ??? Possible? How? $HOME/OneDrive/

What does the extensions do?



  • search217 – a partial search (tests done 2022-11-22)



Communications – Transportation – Solutions

Like email, Slack,  SMSs, … i.e. systems/technologies that really only should be viewed and used as TRANSPORTATION solutions, NOT as any repositories, locations for any storage of information.

When to use what when – Slack vs. Email vs. Meeting –, Oct 3, 2018

Keys point when using any communications solution include:

  • (Having an agenda, if more to discuss than just a single issue)
  • Taking notes, for the benefit of both some permanent record of what was decided and who will act on what, and provide means for others in the future to get access
  • Save those notes in some form of actual repository, could be
    • File in file-based solution like Dropbox, Google Drive, MS OneDrive, …
    • As free-text or as file in Content Management System


Content Management Systems (CMSs)

Great for handling free-text information and general also great at providing search in this.

Just be aware that there absolutely can be kinks of various sorts… (At one point, searching on IP addresses in Confluence failed miserably.)

And how special characters may be treated and are used can differ, depending on what underlying system for regular expressions that is used, if/when used i.e. OAS18001

Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, Atlassian’s Confluence, Microsoft’s SharePoint, Wikipedia and other wikis, and many more.

Local sections:


Finding Information

  • Where to search – where COULD information reside
  • How to search – what tool(s) exists and how to use
    • Any special characters like regular expressions, or special tags decided by own/corporate process. Like described in J&P Groups’s OAS18001.

Gears-Concept by J&P

Under development.


Search Engines

20 Great Search Engines You Can Use Instead of Google –




Autocomplete, Predictive search

Autocomplete, autosuggest, incremental search, … can when really dig into details mean a few different things, that can provide very different functionality or results.

  1. Based on what you have typed earlier in certain types of fields.
    1. Like in web browser, you’re typing in your address, phone no, credit card info, and typing just a character or two gives you suggestion to autocomplete.
      1. And this can go across systems when enabling synching data between browsers on different systems.
  2. Based on how the system you’re using handles typed data. Like a search machine:
    1. Non-context – driven: the search engine provide autocomplete suggestions based on what it has in it’s system.
    2. Context – driven, non-personal: only based on your previous searches in the current session
      1. (Not sure how prevalent anything like this is actually done but it is a possibility.)
    3. Context – driven, personal – based: the search engine knows who you are, like when using the same browser on a computer for extended time and it’s learning what topics are of more or less of interests to you, and suggestions can be driven by this, what findings it present first / top of pages.
      1. And this can go across systems when enabling synching data between browsers on different systems.

Context-Driven, Personal-Based

‘There are many factors that affect the Google search results you see. Google seeks to provide the best results for individual users. This means that they want and expect search results to be different from person to person and that people searching in the same office may see different search results.’ [July 17, 2019, tinybullyagency]


Research / References (Auto Complete..)


URL Formats

  • In general, for searches, the GET method with URLs on format http[s]://<site>/<path>?<search-terms-spec> is definitely preferred.
    • Can share / bookmark / simply use searches in very broad contexts.
    • Note: good systems also provide a descriptive TITLE for searches. E.g.
      • Good: has TITLE ‘elvis – Google Search
        • Shows search term in bookmarkable URL
        • Different searches are thus easily separated by good titles.
      • Bad..: has TITLE ‘Search results – XYX Support
        • Pretty worthless to actually bookmark…
        • Different searches will all have the same TITLE and cannot be separated.

Two different we need to know about, which depend on underlaying HTTP method the system designer chooses for a system: GET and POST.

The following table compares the two HTTP methods: GET and POST.

(‘1’) GET (‘2’) POST
URL format, e.g. /search?term1=value1&term2=value2 /search
Parameters * Part of URL
* Clearly visible
* Hidden from user, not in URL
passed along hidden from form.
BACK button/Reload Harmless Data will be re-submitted (the browser should alert the user that the data are about to be re-submitted)
Bookmarked Can be bookmarked Cannot be bookmarked
Cached Can be cached Not cached
Encoding type application/x-www-form-urlencoded application/x-www-form-urlencoded or multipart/form-data. Use multipart encoding for binary data
History Parameters remain in browser history Parameters are not saved in browser history
Restrictions on data length Yes, when sending data, the GET method adds the data to the URL; and the length of a URL is limited (maximum URL length is 2048 characters) No restrictions
Restrictions on data type Only ASCII characters allowed No restrictions. Binary data is also allowed
Security GET is less secure compared to POST because data sent is part of the URL

Never use GET when sending passwords or other sensitive information!

POST is a little safer than GET because the parameters are not stored in browser history or in web server logs
Visibility Data is visible to everyone in the URL Data is not displayed in the URL

More in general on GET, POST, and more methods: