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Doo brings powerful and easy document search to OS X

Marco Tabini | March 14, 2013
In many ways, computer filesystems are relics of days gone by. Documents get lost, misplaced, and disappear seemingly without a trace. To further complicate things, almost everyone nowadays uses multiple devices, which forces us to play an even more complicated game of "Where did I put that file?"

In many ways, computer filesystems are relics of days gone by. Documents get lost, misplaced, and disappear seemingly without a trace. To further complicate things, almost everyone nowadays uses multiple devices, which forces us to play an even more complicated game of "Where did I put that file?"

Doo (Mac App Store link), developed by the German company of the same name, aims to address this problem. Doo aggregates all your documents regardless of where they come from and are stored, and analyzes them to create a database of interesting features that can later be searched and synchronized among multiple devices.

Installation

At this time, Doo supports both OS X Mountain Lion and Windows 8. On its website, the company also states that versions for Android and iOS are coming soon, although no specific timeframe is given.

Installing Doo on my Macs was, by far, the most frustrating part of using the app. This was due to the fact that almost all my machines contain multiple hard drives, and that my home directory is in a non-standard location--both conditions that Doo doesn't handle very well out of the box. Luckily, the company addressed this shortcoming in version 1.0.5, which is currently available as a free beta on the Doo website. (Doo currently does not support external storage devices.)

Once past this problem (which seems to have frustrated many an App Store user, given the product's reviews), getting Doo to run was as simple as installing any other app. After choosing a directory where metadata about indexed documents is stored, I had the option of specifying one or more sources of data where Doo would go looking for documents to analyze.

Documents, documents, documents

Even to someone who has been around computers for a while, Doo's ability to find and index data is quite impressive. The app supports many different sources of data--not just the obvious choices like local folders, but also email accounts and several cloud providers such as Dropbox and Google Drive.

In all cases, the process of adding new sources to your account is completely seamless and easy to use; not once was I asked for more than a username and password, and Doo was able to immediately discover all the appropriate settings required to add my email account, which uses an obscure mailserver, on its own--something even Mail hasn't been able to do over the years.

Once a new source is added, Doo starts to index its contents right away. In some ways, this is similar to what Spotlight does, but with some significant differences. Where Spotlight relies on apps to provide metadata on each document it finds, Doo employs its own indexing algorithms that, in some cases, go well beyond what OS X's built-in search engine can do. For example, when Doo encounters an image, it actually attempts to perform optical character recognition (OCR) on it to determine whether it contains any text that can be analyzed and used later in a search.

 

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