The Sherlock search tool, introduced in MacOS 8.5, extends the classic Find feature beyond locating mere filenames. Once you figure out some of the keyboard shortcuts (Command-F from the Finder activates Sherlock, Command-F, G and H respectively will then select Find File, Find by Content and Search Internet) you can quickly search for content on the Internet without even opening a browser!
Sherlock knows how to search a site based on a plug-in (contained in the Internet Search Site folder in your System Folder) which tells it how to interact with a particular search engine. Several plug-ins are included with MacOS 8.5, and there are many additional plug-ins available both from Apples web site and third parties. You can also create your own plug-ins.
Once you accumulate a large number of plug-ins, you may want to enable only certain ones for particular searches. Alas, Sherlock doesnt support the concept of sets; the only way to include or exclude a plug-in is to manually click on a checkbox. This can get tiresome if you have a large number of plug-ins to wade through.
Sigerson by James Sentman (version 2.0 beta 1 was reviewed for this article) acts as a front end to Sherlock, allowing one to both define and select a particular set of Sherlock plug-ins, and to then submit a query directly to Sherlock. This allows more fluid operation than other set managers, which only offer the creation and selection of sets, leaving you to launch Sherlock to then submit your query. Also, other set managers manipulate the contents of your Internet Search Sites folder, while Sigeson allows you to keep all your plug-ins in this folder, where they belong.
Other nice touches not present in the Apple client include the detection of damaged plug-ins, the display of an optional description when clicking on a plug-in, the ability to resize the program window, and a method to view and edit the contents of a plug-in file. The ability to view plug-in contents is especially useful if you want to know exactly where your query is going.
Sigerson introduces a nice concept in the form of having categories inthe site window. This allows you to sort by ccategory. You can either manually assign a Category to each plug-in (not that exciting) or, drag a folder of plug-ins over the Sites window, and they will be copied and assigned a Category matching the name of the folder.
Sherlock will complain about not having enough memory if you enable a large number of plug-ins, either via Sigerson or Sherlock directly. Submitting a search via Sigerson, using a large number of plug-ins and the default Sherlock memory allocation, resulted in Sherlock not displaying or launching properly. After doing a Force Quit and increasing Sherlock's preferred memory size from ~2MB to ~6MB, everything was fine. The author has had at least one other report of this problem, but was unable to reproduce it. Could have been a case of dueling extensions and control panels which have nothing to do with Sherlock.
Overall, Sigerson is a must-have for anyone who has accumulated a large number of plug-ins and would like their searches to be as focused as possible. It also offers important integrity and editing features absent from Apples implementation.
Sigerson is "emailware", with the author asking you to send him an email if you use the product.