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From Windows experience, I could always elect Live search to only index file names not their content. Is this something that can be done with Spotlight on a Mac?

It used to index absolutely everything, for instance it would return a bunch of video files for any obscure character combination typed into the search field.

Right now I've disabled Spotlight entirely as per this answer, but it seems to have disabled searching altogether. For instance, Finder is yet to locate any .pdf files in a small directory as I'm typing this question (unlike windows search which would still be able to work even with indexing disabled)

Alternatively, if there is any way (including a trusted third-party app) that will index file names and metadata e.g. ID3 tags that would likely be the preferred option.

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spotlight does not index content it only indexes metadata of a file, for each file type there is a spotlight plugin that is used to get information about the file *which might include more data than you would expect from Windows) and as you notice Apple uses spotlight for all searching –  Mark Jun 27 '12 at 8:18

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You probably need to use a third party search engine. The few parameters of spotlight are in the system preferences.

My company publishes OpenSearchServer which is an open source search engine software able to handle complex indexation strategies, including mp3 tag indexation. May be you can have a look.

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