Blob Quick Search


In this post, I will describe how Blob Quick Search can quickly find an file, email, social media post, calendar appointment or contact regardless of where it is stored. I’ll also describe the powerful search syntax it supports, so you can issue sophisticated searches by directly typing into the search box. This is the 2nd part of my blog series related to finding your personal digital content. Other posts in this series include:

Part 1: Intro to the search problem and Advanced Search.

Part 2: this post – Quick Search and its powerful search syntax.

Part 3: Customizing the search results display.

Part 4: Other ways to find your content.

Part 5: Integration with other tools & next steps.

Issuing a Quick Search

You issue a “quick” search by simply typing something in the Blob search box and pressing the <Enter> key.

Blob Quick Search

 
Let’s say you want to find a file or email that has some financial information but don’t remember where you kept it. You can simply type in “finan” (without the quote marks) in the Blob Quick Search box. This search will return all content types from any storage location if any text property of the content contains the search text finan. Blob will:

  • Search all content types at all Data Sources, including files embedded inside ZIP files or inside emails as attachments.
  • Search all text properties to see if they contain the search text finan (case-insensitive). Thus, it will find “finance”, “finances”, “financial”, “My Finances”, “Financial Information” etc.
  • Search all content properties that have text values.

Advanced Quick Search

The Blob Quick Search box supports a very powerful search syntax. It lets you issues searches even more complex than the advanced searches I mentioned in part 1 of this blog series.

Quick Examples

  • Typing *.xls in the search-box will search all Data Sources to find files whose extension contains the word xls (i.e. xls & xlsx files). This includes email attachments and files inside ZIP files.
  • Typing work.xls in the search box will find files whose file name contains the word work and whose file extension contains the word xls   (i.e. work.xls, work.xlsx, works.xls, working.xlsx, network.xls etc.).
  • Typing C:\project\*.xls will find all files whose file extension contains xls and whose folder name contains c:\project   (i.e. it will find c:\project\documents\data\q1.xlsx).
  • Typing type: Photos in the search box will find all photos in all Data Sources, including photos embedded inside ZIP files and inside emails. Similarly, type: Music will find all audio files, type: video will find all video files etc.
  • Typing ext: pdf (or any other specific file extension) will find all files that contain the file-extension pdf.
  • Typing “work schedule” (with quotes) will find all files, emails, appointments etc. that contain the literal search text work schedule (case in-sensitive, but the word work must be immediately followed by the word schedule) in any searchable text property
  • Typing work schedule (without quotes) will find content that contains both words work and schedule, even if the occur separate from each other (i.e. it will match “I have more work than time in my schedule”).
  • at: Google | Yahoo type: Document will find documents in all your Google and Yahoo accounts, including email attachments and documents inside ZIP files. Documents include files with extension txt, pdf, doc/docx, xls/xlsx, htm/html etc.
  • at: Google inside: John will find email attachments at Google accounts where the email sender, recipient or subject fields contain the word John.
  • at: C:\ | D:\ (filename: sched or filename: plan) (ext: doc or ext: pdf)   modified-after: 1/30/2014 will find files on C:\ and D:\ whose file name contains the words sched or the word plan AND whose files extension contains the word doc or pdf AND it will only include files that were modified after Jan 30, 2014.
  • at: Yahoo | Google (from: John OR from: Mary)   (to: Peter OR to: Sam)  subject: schedule   created-after: 6/30/2014   created-before: 10/30/2014   attachment: jpg will find emails at Yahoo and Google accounts that meet ALL of the following conditions:
    • Email was sent by John or Mary (email sender field contains the word John or Mary).
    • Email was sent to Peter or Sam (email recipient field contains the word Peter or Sam).
    • Email subject field contains the word schedule.
    • Email was created between June 30, 2014 and Oct 30, 2014.
    • Email has a file attachment whose file name or file extension contain the word jpg.

As you can see, the Blob quick search box allows you to quickly issue very powerful searches.

Basic Rules

  • Search is NOT case sensitive: Thus a search for “John Doe” (uppercase J and D) is equivalent to a search for “john doe” (lowercase j and d).
  • Search will find embedded files/emails: By default, a search will also find files that are embedded inside other files (e.g. ZIP files) and embedded inside emails as attachments.
  • You can restrict the search to specific locations: You can specify which Data Sources to search by using the at: qualifier. Use the “|” (or) operator to separate multiple Data Sources.

    Example: at: C:\ | D:\ will restrict the search to hard drives C:\ and D:\.

  • You can refine your search using optional qualifiers: The “Keywords” section below lists the qualifiers you can use to refine your search (also see “Quick Example” section above). You can use multiple qualifiers together to narrow down the search results.
  • Quoted text is literally searched: when you enclose a search phrase in double quote marks “ ”, the exact search phrase inside the quote marks is searched. If search text is not enclosed in quotes, it will return results that contain all of the words in the search phrase (not necessarily next to each other).
  • Simplified file search syntax is supported: Blob supports intuitive searches like *.xls, work.xls and C:\proj\*.xls – see “Quick Examples” above.
  • You can use multiple search terms in a single search: You can use the AND and OR operators to combine multiple search terms.
  • Wildcards are supported: The * wild-card is supported, and implies a match with 0 or more occurrences of any character or number. The “?” wild-card character is not supported. If you use the “?” wild-card character in a search term, it is automatically replaced with the “*” wild-card.
  • Parentheses/Grouping is supported: You can use opening parenthesis “(” and closing parenthesis “)” to group together search terms (see “Quick Examples”). Nesting of parentheses is supported.
  • Content based searching is supported, but not for remote files: You can search the contents of files, emails, social media posts/likes/comments and calendar appointments. The only restriction is that searching the contents of remote files is not supported – only contents of files on your local hard disks can be searched.

Search Qualifiers

Blob Quick Search supports the following search qualifiers to refine your search:

Search QualifierDescription
album:Finds photo, audio or video files whose “album name” property contains the specified search word (but not all photo, audio and video files contain album information). Example:

at: c:\ album: John will find photo, audio and video files on C:\ whose album name contains the word John.

appt-end-after:

appt-end-before:

appt-end-on:

Finds calendar appointments whose “appointment end time” property is after, before or exactly at the specified search date you enter.

appt-end-before: 2014-01-10T10:30 will find appointments that end before 10:30am on Jan 10, 2014.
appt-end-after: 2014/1/1 AND appt-end-before: 2014/01/10 will find appointments that end between Jan 1, 2014 and Jan 10, 2014.

appt-start-after:

appt-start-before:

appt-start-on:

Finds calendar appointments whose “appointment start time” property is after, before or exactly at the specified search date you enter.

appt-start-before: 2014-01-10T10:30 will find appointments that start before 10:30am on Jan 10, 2014.
appt-start-after: 2014/1/1 AND appt-start-before: 2014/01/10 will find appointments that start between Jan 1, 2014 and Jan 10, 2014.

artist:Finds audio or video files whose “artist” property contains the specified search word (but not all audion/video files contain artist information).

at: c:\ artist: John will find audio and video files on C:\ drive whose artist name contains the word John.

at:Used to specify the Data Sources to search. You can specify multiple Data Sources by separating them with the OR operator character “|”.

at: Google will search Data Sources whose name contains the word Google.
at: Google | Yahoo will search your Google and Yahoo accounts.

attachment:Finds emails and compound files (e.g. ZIP files, ISO files, 7z files etc.) that contain an attachment with the specified search word.

at: C:\ attachment: Schedule will find compound files on C:\ that have an attachment whose filename or file extension contains the word Schedule.
at: Google attachment: jpg will find emails in your Google accounts that have an attachment with the word jpg in its file name or file extension. Note that this will also find jpg files that are embedded in a ZIP file that is itself an attachment inside an email.

attribute:Finds files, emails or contacts with the specified attributes. Blob supports the following attributes:

  • For files: Normal, Compound, Embedded and Important.
  • For emails: Unread, Replied, Forwarded, Compound, Important, Deleted and Normal.
  • For contacts: Normal, Embedded and Important.

at: Yahoo from: John attribute: replied will find emails at all your Yahoo email accounts that contain the word John in the email sender field, and that you have replied to.

camera:Finds photos whose “camera make or model” property contains the specified search word (but not all photo files contain camera information).

camera: Canon AND camera: EOS will find photos that were taken with a Canon EOS camera.

cellphone:Finds Contacts whose “Contact Cell-Phone” property contains the specified search word. Example:

cellphone: 816 will find contacts in all Data Sources that contain 816 in their cell-phone number.

comment:Finds files, emails, appointments, contacts or social media posts whose “Comments” property contains the specified search word(s). Blob lets you add arbitrary comments to any content type. Blob automatically incorporates comments from Data Sources that support them (e.g. user added comments for Picasa Web Album or Facebook photos). Example:

comment: beautiful will find any content that contains the word beautiful in the Comments field.

composer:Finds audio or video files whose “composer” property contains the specified search word(bit not all audio and video files contain composer information). Example:

composer: John will find audio and video files whose composer’s name contains the word John.

contact:Finds contacts that contain the specified search word in the “Contact Name” or “Contact Email” property.

contact: John will find contacts that contains the word John in either the contact name or email address.

content:Finds files, emails, appointments or social media posts whose contents contains the specified search word(s). Example:

at: C:\ type: pdf content: work schedule will find PDF files on C:\ whose file contents contain the word work and schedule (not necessarily together). This includes PDF files that have various combinations of the word work (e.g. works, working, worked …) and schedule (e.g. schedules, scheduled etc.)
at: C:\ type: pdf content: “work schedule” (with quotes around the search phrase) will only find PDF files on C:\ drive whose content contain the exact search phrase work schedule.

created-after:

created-before:

created-on:

Finds files, emails or social media posts whose “Created On” date is after, before or on the specified search date. Example:

at: c:\ created-before: 2014-01-10T10:30 will find files on C:\ that were created before 10:30am on Jan 10, 2014.
created-after: 2014/1/1 AND created-before: 2014/01/10 will find content created within the date range Jan 1, 2014 and Jan 10, 2014.

ext:Finds files whose “file extension” property contains the specified search word.
ext: xls (or simply *.xls) will find files whose file extension contains the word xls (thus, it will file *.xls as well as *.xlsx files).
filename:Finds files whose “file name” property contains the specified search word. Note that this search specifically looks at the file’s name only, not its folder name. Example:

at: c:\ filename: proj will find files on C:\ drive whose file name contains the word proj.

folder:Finds files or emails whose folder name contains the specified search word (also see the mailbox: keyword, which only finds emails, not files). Note that this search specifically looks at the file’s folder name only, not its file name or file extension. Example:

at Yahoo folder: inbox will find emails in the Inbox folder at all your Yahoo email accounts.
at c:\|d:\ folder: proj will find files on C:\ and D:\ drive whose folder name contains the word proj.

from:For emails, this finds emails whose “email sender” property contains the specified search word. For social media posts, this finds posts whose “poster name” property contains the specified search word. Example:

from: john will find emails and social media posts whose email sender or social media post creator contains the word john.

genre:Finds audio or video files whose “genre” property contains the specified search word (but not all audio/video files contain genre information). Example:

genre: Classic will find audio and video files whose genre name contains the word Classic.

gps:Finds photos whose “GPS” property contains the specified search word (but not all photos contain proper GPS information). Example:

gps: California will find photo files whose GPS information contains the word California.

homephone:Finds contacts whose “Contact Home Phone” property contains the specified search word. Example:

homephone: 816 will find contacts that contain 816 in their home phone number.

inside:Finds files or emails embedded as an attachment inside another file or email, such that the parent file they are embedded in contains the specified search word. Example:

at: Google inside: John will find attachments in emails in Google accounts whose sender, receiver or subject fields contain the word John. It will also find files that are embedded inside a compound file (e.g. ZIP file) that contains John in its folder name, file name or file extension.

at: C:\ inside: Project will return attachments inside compound files (e.g. ZIP files) whose file name, folder name, or file extension contain the word Project.

like:Finds social media posts whose “Likes” property contain the specified search word. Note that a social media post may have thousands of likes but Blob will capture only a limited number of Likes. Thus, this search may return incomplete results. Example:

at: Facebook like: John will find posts on Facebook that were Liked by John.

mailbox:Finds emails whose “mailbox folder name” property contains the specified search word (also see the folder: keyword, which finds both files as well as emails in the specified folder). Example:

at Yahoo mailbox: inbox will find emails in the Inbox folder at all your Yahoo email accounts.

modified-after:

modified-before:

modified-on:

Finds files or social media posts whose “Last Modified On” date is after, before or on the specified search date. Example:

at: c:\ modified-after: 2014-01-10T10:30 will find files on C:\ that were modified after 10:30am on Jan 10, 2014.
modified-after: 2014/1/1 AND modified-before: 2014/01/10 will find content modified within the date range Jan 1, 2014 and Jan 10, 2014.

phone:Finds contacts whose “Contact Cell-Phone” or “Contact Home-Phone” properties contains the specified search word. Example:

phone: 816 will find contacts that contain 816 in their cell-phone or home-phone number.

playtime-gt:

playtime-is:

playtime-lt:

Finds audio and video files whose media Play duration is greater than (for gt: ), is exactly (for is: ) or less than (for lt: ) the specified duration. Specify play duration as a number immediately followed by its magnitude. Supported magnitudes are: sec for Seconds, min for minutes, hr for hours, day for days, wk for weeks, month for months and yr for years. Example:

playtime-gt: 4.5min will find audio and video files whose play time is greater than 4.5 minutes.

at: c:\ | d:\ type: video AND playtime-gt: 4min AND playtime-lt: 5min will only find videos (not audio files) on C:\ or D:\ drives whose video play time is between 4 and 5 minutes.

size-gt:

size-is:

size-lt:

Finds files and emails whose size is greater than (for gt: ), is exactly (for is: ) or less than (for lt: ) the specified size. Specify the size as a number immediately followed by its magnitude. Supported magnitudes are: bytes for Bytes, kb for kilobytes, mb for megabytes and gb for gigabytes. Example:

size-gt: 10.5mb will find all files and emails whose size is greater than 10.5 megabytes.
at: c:\ | d:\ (type: Document OR type: Photo) AND size-gt: 2mb will find documents and photos on C:\ or D:\ whose size is greater than 2 megabytes.

size-gt: 400kb AND size-lt: 5mb will find content whose size is between 400 kilobytes and 5 megabytes.

subject:Find emails or appointments whose “Subject” property contains the specified search word. Example:

at Google subject: vacation will find emails and appointments at all Google accounts that contain the word vacation in its subject field.

tag:Finds files, emails, appointments, contacts or social media posts whose “Tags” property contains the specified search word. Blob let you add arbitrary tags to any file, email, contact, post etc. In addition, Blob automatically incorporates tags from Data Sources that support them (e.g. tags added to photos by photo classification apps). Example:

tag: power will find content of any type that has the word power in the Tags field.

title:Finds photos, audio files and video files whose “title” property contains the specified search word (but not all photo, audio an video files contain title information). Example:

title: Paradise will find photo, audio and video files whose title contains the word Paradise.

to:For emails: find emails whose “email recipient” property contains the specified search word. For social media posts: find posts whose “post addressed to” property contains the specified search word. Example:

to: john will find emails and social media posts whose receiver contains the word john.

type:Specifies the type of content to search. The following type specifications are supported: type: document, type: photo, type: audio, type: video, type: other, type: email, type: contact, type: appointment, type: post type: compound and type: embedded . You can configure which file extensions are considered Documents, Photos etc. Example:

at: Google|Yahoo (type: Document OR type: Photo) AND (created-after: 1/1/2014) will find documents and photos from all Google and Yahoo accounts that were created after Jan 1, 2014.

workphone:Finds contacts whose “Contact Work-Phone” property contains the specified search word. Example:

workphone: 816 will find contacts that contain 816 in their work phone number.

As you can see, the Blob Quick Search text box lets you quickly find any type of content, wherever it is stored. Its sophisticated search syntax lets you issue complex searches without having to use the Advanced Search screen.

 

 

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