I have been searching for a system to handle my massive PDF collection, and may have found a solution that works. A couple months ago I bought a Mac mini, intrigued by the ability of "Spotlight" search engine to chew through PDFs. I have loaded over a thousand PDFs on the Mac mini, and am pleased to be able to locate files I haven't seen in a while.
- Apple's Preview is far better than Acrobat Reader. It loads faster, and avoids several annoyances of Reader, such when Reader disables text copying because someone set the file that way. Someone needs to develop an open source PDF reader for the PC. It is a scandal what garbage Adobe is allowed to inflict on us.
- I can annotate PDFs within Preview, with no extra software required.
- Spotlight does decent job searching, but learning what it can do was a pain, since most of its functionality is undocumented. Spotlight can do very basic Boolean searches (AND, OR, NOT) and search a single phrase, but cannot do any combination of the above (unlike Google). The search syntax is a bit wonky, Unix-like, but I can live with that.
- I wish Spotlight could do more, perhaps the functionality the venerable program AskSam. Proximity searching, fuzzy search, nested searching would all be nice. I would also like to create sets of results to join or filter.
- I can search on the annotations of my PDFs, which is cool.
- I would like to preview my search results automatically when I open the document.
- I can apply tags to my files, though this took me ages to figure out how to do (another undocumented feature). Someone has kindly created a widget to give an overview of tags used and number of documents associated with each, which allows deep linking to a document. Very Nice. I wish tags could be phrases -- instead one needs to create computerish tags such as userTesting.
- Much fuss is made of "smartfolders" associated a search profile, whose contents change dynamically as documents are added or subtracted. For my purposes, it don't see any use for smartfolders -- I don't particularly want to look at folders at all. Also, the search complexity of Spotlight is too limited to create intelligent automated indexes. I would like something that worked like the amazing program 1980s program Lotus Agenda, which parsed and categorized content automatically based on wonderful profiling hierarchies. With such a feature, I could zero in on the level of detail I sought, choosing a broader or narrower term.
Overall, Tiger offers some valuable capabilities. At the same time, I sometimes feel like I am trying to buy a necklace but instead have been given a needle, thread, and bowl of popcorn and told to make my own.