How long have you been using Gmail and Dropbox? If you’re the average person, the answer is at least a few years. How much stuff do you have buried in there? What do you do when you need to find a specific item, but can only remember a general keyword and the year you got it? For most of us, the answer is “plow through until I find it”. What else could you do?
Gmail has pretty powerful search operators of its own, and these are always worth knowing about. We’ve also shown you a way to use invisible hashtags to make emails easier to find. The problem, though, is that you don’t always remember specific enough information. And even if you do, typing in in all those search operators can get pretty cumbersome.
A nice solution I’ve recently found it CloudMagic, but it uses a different kind of search mechanism.. FindIt is a slick mobile app for iOS and Android that turns searching through Gmail, Google Drive and Dropbox into an easy and intuitive experience. It’s much like
FindIt has been available on iOS for several months, and only recently came out for Android as well. This means that not all features from the iOS version are available for Android yet, but it all should get there in good time.
Before you go crazy: Yes, you have to grant the app access to any account you want to search through. There’s no other way, naturally, but if you don’t like the idea, you can always use the built-in search functions that come with these services.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to have a look at FindIt. To start using FindIt, and before you can connect your existing accounts, you’ll have to create a unique FindIt account. Once you do that, you can connect as many Gmail, Google Drive and Dropbox accounts as you want.
Once linked, you can’t start searching right away. FindIt first has to index everything in your accounts, and depending on how many you’ve connected and how big they are, this may take a while. After a little while, you’ll be able to search through some of your emails and files, and the repository will grow the longer you wait. You will receive an email once everything is ready.
Search By Time, Person Or File Type
Yes, these are all things you can do within Gmail, but FindIt makes it easier, and includes Dropbox and Google Drive to boot. There are several ways to start a FindIt search. The simplest one is to type in a keyword and tap the “Find it” button. This will perform a regular search for the keyword through all your accounts.
For each result, you’ll get a date, a file type, and the relevant names, but nothing about which account the result came from. After digging in, I found that the feature already exists on the iOS version, and is coming to Android soon.
You can now narrow down these results by person, time or file type by tapping the buttons on top. You’re not limited to one of these, of course. For example, you can narrow down your search to include only results from 2009-2010, and then narrow these results to show only image files. It’s all intuitive and can be done with a just a few taps.
To narrow the search down further, you can add another keyword at any time. Simply tap the plus icon on the top right and add your second keyword. From here, you can also remove any of the filters you’ve already applied to your search.
When you find a result you’re interested in, tap it to preview it. In iOS, you’ll also be able to perform some further actions such as sharing, and forwarding and replying to emails. These features are not available on Android, unfortunately, but according to the developers, they’ll be added very soon.
You don’t have to start your search with a keyword. If you’re looking for any presentation you’ve worked on with a certain person in the year 2011, you can do this easily. Just start your search with the filters, without entering a keyword at all.
Downsides, Limitations & Other Strange Things
If you have sharp eyes, I bet you’ve noticed the GPS icon flashing in many of the screenshots above. Why? That’s a good question. GPS location was enabled every time I launched FindIt, but it didn’t stay on. After figuring out my location (I assume) it switched itself off and therefore didn’t kill my battery. According to the developers, this is a bug they’re still working on fixing, and it only happens on Android.
Another limitation, which I’ve mentioned already, is the completely lack of service and account filter of any kind. I’ve been using Gmail since 2004. I have many emails. I also have several accounts. Dropbox and Google Drive files get inevitably buried within my emails, and emails from one account get drowned by another. With FindIt’s filters, it’s not very hard to find what I want anyway, but it would have been great to be able to search just Dropbox, or just a certain account, if I so wish.
Another annoying issue has to do with interface. Let’s say you search for “flight” and find many results. You then narrow these down by file type, and get no results at all. What would you do intuitively? When this happened to me, I hit the back icon every time, which made me have to start the search all over again! This only happens when your filter yields no results. When this happens, the right thing to do is to tap the plus icon and remove the last filter. Not very intuitive, but you get used to it at the end.
The last limitation you need to know about is the preview limitation. FindIt only lets you preview 30 results per month. But, if you share the app with 5 friends, you’ll get unlimited previews for an entire year.
What Did You Find?
provides a quick and easy way to find your stuff from anywhere. While finding these things may not be that hard on your computer, it’s much more annoying when on the go. FindIt solves that problem, and does so quite nicely.
Will you be giving FindIt a spin? How do you manage to find what you need in your mountains of clutter?
Image credit: Ana Guzzo