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What’s the most common thing you do online? Chatting? Emailing? Writing? Sharing? Not quite.
One of the most common actions done online by anyone is searching. We search Google, we search Gmail, we search our computer and cloud storage for files, we search our phone for contacts…it’s all just an endless search.
Synata (beta) is a free (for individual use) Web app and Chrome extension that wants to make this endless search easier. Keep on reading, I’ll show you how.
What Is Synata?
Similar to CloudMagic (our review), and other apps, Synata aims to alleviate the pain that comes with using multiple accounts. After all, you can’t really help it. If you have a Google account or two and a Dropbox account, and need to find a specific file you can’t remember where you placed, you’re already in for a treat. Add additional cloud-storage services to the mix, and you have a real party on your hands.
Synata searches everywhere in one go, and makes it easy to locate exactly what you need.
Setting Up Synata
To start using Synata, all you have to do is open an account and…..wait 2 days. Well, it might be less if you’re accounts are smaller than mine, but this is the amount of time it took Synata to index my Google and Dropbox accounts. But let’s not jump ahead.
After creating your Synata account, you’ll get to choose which accounts you want Synata to index.
At first it will offer a really nice selection, but you’ll soon discover that most of these services are not available yet. The only ones you can choose for now are Google, Dropbox, and Box. That’s still great, but once they actually add services such as Evernote and Office 365, Synata’s usefulness could skyrocket.
Now comes the scary part: in order to use Synata, you’re naturally going to have to grant it access to everything. After all, how can it find your stuff without this access? It all feels safe enough, and Synata does go out of its way to explain how it protects your data, but it still requires a leap of faith.
Once you do that, Synata will start indexing your accounts.
If you want to add more than one account of the same type, you can easily do so by adding additional accounts after you’ve added the initial one. At this point, you can also download the Synata Chrome extension, but it’s not a must.
Depending on your account sizes, indexing is going to take a while, with the average time being around 24 hours. So go do something else and come back tomorrow to try out Synata.
Searching, Finding, Viewing
Now the fun truly starts. Once your accounts are indexed (you’ll receive an email once they are, so no need to go checking every 10 minutes), you can commence the searching.
For this, you can either log into Synata’s Web app, or use Synata’s Chrome extension. Just type your search query into the search box, and start playing. You can use one keyword, or an advanced search expression.
There are several ways you can view your search results. By default, these are sorted by category, and you can easily jump between the different categories by using the buttons on top. You can also scroll down to have a look a everything if you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for. Synata can find files, folders, people, events, emails, and maybe some other things I haven’t encountered yet.
Another option is to view your results by source. Click the “Category” button to switch to Source view. Now your results are sorted by where they’re coming from: Gmail, Dropbox, etc.
There are two additional ways to sort your results: relevance and date. This is toggled through the “Relevance” button. Once you’ve performed a search, there’s no way to narrow down the results by things like file type or certain dates, but according to the developers, more options will be added within the next couple of weeks.
For some file types, Synata lets you preview things within the app. This works with emails and documents, but doesn’t work with images or PDF files.
With most documents and files, preview or not, you can simply click the name to open it in a new tab. With images, though, things get trickier, as there doesn’t seem to be any way to either preview them or even open them from within the search results. Clicking the image link does absolutely nothing, and it’s not exactly clear if this is a bug or if that’s the way it should be.
Synata is a great way to find your stuff in the jumble of your own accounts, and as it emerges out of beta in the following months, it’s bound to become even better. It’s not completely bug free at the moment, so don’t be surprised if things don’t work exactly as planned every time, but that’s to be expected in the beta stage.
As with everything, it pays to watch out for your privacy. If you’ve added Synata (or any other app) and you’re not using it anymore, make sure to revoke its app permissions. If you’re having trouble remembering (as most of us do), try using a service such as MyPermissions, which tracks your permissions, reminds you of new ones and helps you remove them quickly.
Image Credit: Robert Zetzsche