My Applications folder has 486 entries, applications that have accumulated in the 30 years I'm using Apple hardware and software. Sometimes I'm looking for "that great application I have installed a few monts ago" but I am unable to remember its name, and I can spend a long time searching for it among hundreds of other apps.
Typical example: I installed Snagit during my last Parallels upgrade (it came as a bundle). It's a really great screen capture application, but how can I remember that "Snagit" is a screen capture application? As for its icon, it shows a white "S" on blue background, which isn't very helpful either.

On Unix there is apropos, but under Mac OSX this command only finds command line applications. Of course, there is the Web, but it is rather cumbersome to search the Web to find an application which is already on my harddisk. Not to mention the fact that some applications are hard to find even if you know exactly what they do. Take for example OmniDiskSweeper, I doubt I will ever find it through the query "application that calculates the size of folders". I thought of adding comments to applications, but I'm afraid they will disappear at the first update.

Is there an application that will combine the information found on the Web with all applications I have on my disk, and be able to answer queries based on keywords or on a description of the task I need? (for example "application, screen capture, installed in the last six months"). I.e., an intelligent Spotlight ("intelligent" in the sense of the semantic Web).

So here is my need: find an application that does a specific task in an overcrowded Applications folder, out of a few keywords or out of a sentence describing it.

  • 1
    You can use meta data. Select the app in Finder, press +i or secondary click -> Get Info.. There You have "Comments" section where You can describe Your app, for example "great screen capture app". With this You can search for this in Spotlight :) Commented May 25, 2015 at 15:12
  • Yes, but won't the tag disappear when updating/upgrading the app?
    – yannis
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 15:13
  • @yannis No, I believe it won't. The comment is actually stored in the .DS_Store file so if you update the app, but keep the same filename (which is mostly the case) the comment should still be there. Commented May 25, 2015 at 16:28
  • Simple but not perfect way is to use Finder and sort by application category. At least you get some sorting.
    – Ruskes
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 16:35
  • @BartArondson are You sure it's stored in .DS_Store file? I don't think so. Here's info about this on arstechnica. After removing .DS_Store file my metadata is not erased from the file. Commented May 25, 2015 at 16:45

4 Answers 4


You can use meta data. Select the app in Finder, press +i or secondary click -> Get Info.. There You have "Comments" section, where You can describe Your app (for example "great screen capture app"). Then You can search for an app in Spotlight using the keywords You privided. After upgrading the app, extended attributes are not erased.

  • If you are sure that comments are not erased, then maybe this is a solution. But still I think there is room for an application which actually finds information on apps for the case where you forget writing comments.
    – yannis
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 16:15
  • Sure it is doable, but imagine the effort to build a database with app descriptions. Info from the App Store is not enough if You want to query like: "application that shows disk usage and presents it in a circular view"... Commented May 25, 2015 at 16:50

Just a thought, but it will require more than a bit of work.

Make a text file with the name off all your applications in them. Write a brief description of each application along with any keywords you might associate with the application.

Save it in your documents folder. When you do a Spotlight search enter a description of what you want to do and/or a keyword or two and the description will pop up inside that document pointing you in the right direction.

Or you could just keep the document in your Dock, open it and do a keyword search...


What I do is create folders in Launchpad, bundling apps with related functionality together with an explanatory title. Dupes & Hygiene; Systems & Code; Amnesia (for things like calendars & other life organizational tools); Communication; Finder Tweaks; Media Players; Photo & Visual Art; Browsers & Readers; and so on. I'd never be able to find anything if I didn't lump them together to remind myself what each one does.

  • So you mean that instead of creating subfolders inside /Applications, it is more practical to create LaunchPad folders? (I have never used LaunchPad, maybe this is an opportunity to start doing so…)
    – yannis
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 15:41
  • Yes, exactly. I don't use folders in the Applications folder, just on the Launchpad screen. It's quick & easy to do a 4 Finger swipe up, taking you to Launchpad, visually locate the 'topic' folder, click to expand it & decide which app is best for the job. I use it very similarly to the way I use the iOS homescreen, with folders housing categories of apps. You probably still won't be able to remember the specifics of what each app does, but housing Snagit with similar utilities should help you find it in a reverse dictionary sort of way.
    – Zero
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 20:08

Try MacUpdate Desktop (http://www.macupdate.com). It has functionality you are looking for, i.e. searching installed apps and new ones by description... If app is installed it'll show you. If not, then you'll see 'Install' button. Hope this will help you.

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