Spotlight search in Entourage 2008 is so fast, this one feature makes the upgrade to Entourage 2008 worthwhile. If you’ve been disappointed with Spotlight in the Finder, you’ll find using Spotlight within Entourage 2008 to be easy and blazingly fast. You don’t get results from other file types and there is no setting for kind or type. You can search by a folder, but searching “all messages” is so fast you don’t have to worry about a message lost in some subfolder not showing up in the results.
This article is going to focus on the following:
- Spotlight Basics
- Location of your Spotlight cache files
- Saving a Spotlight search as a custom mail view
- Troubleshooting problems with Spotlight search in Entourage
- Spotlight indexing only works on one Identity at a time.
- Spotlight search in Entourage only searches the Entourage Identity and nothing else on your computer.
- If you use Spotlight search in the Finder, it can see the cache files from other Identities. You’ll have to switch Identities to view the message unless you install the Entourage QuickLook plugin.
- Unless the Identity is left open long enough for Spotlight to index, you won’t be able to search that Identity.
- Is the Entourage Database Daemon (Office Reminders/Notifications) turned on? Spotlight will index any cache files the Entourage daemon has created even if the daemon is not launched, but no new cache files will be created until the daemon is launched again.
- Do you have Mail Messages. Contacts, Events & To Do Items selected in Spotlight System Preferences? These options do not apply to just Apple’s applications.
Open Spotlight in System Preferences. Be sure all corresponding Entourage items are checked:
- Entourage Mail items are listed under “Mail Messages” group.
- Entourage Events & Task items are listed under “Events and To Do Items” group.
- Entourage Contacts are listed under the “Contacts” group.
- Entourage Notes are listed under the “Documents” group
Why do I get duplicate contacts/emails listed in Finder Spotlight results, one for Entourage and one for Address Book?
This is a limitation of the implementation from Apple. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about it at this time since Entourage and AddressBook have to share the same basic data ‘types’. The Address Book items do not show up if you are using Spotlight search in Entourage.
- If you had Spotlight enabled in Entourage 2004, you can delete those cache files and free up some space. They are no longer needed.
- If you delete an Identity in the Finder the Spotlight cache files will not be automatically deleted, but if you delete the Identity in the “Switch Identity” window, the cache files for that Identity will be automatically deleted.
- If you did delete an Identity manually, then you will have to manually delete those cache files in this location: Library/Caches/Metadata/Microsoft folder
Spotlight cache files – .vRgemessage
We often have users ask if the files they find in their User’s Library that end in .vRge are their lost messages. The answer is no. These are the cache files Entourage creates for Spotlight searches.
When you enable Spotlight indexing within Entourage, a “cache” file is created for each item within your Entourage database. If you want to see the cache files, you can find them within your Library/Caches/Metadata/Microsoft folder. I suggest you use Apple ‘label’ feature as breadcrumbs to highlight the folders in this path in case you want to find your cache files in the future.
Entourage creates cache files for Spotlight searches. Spotlight does not actually index the database but the cache files that Entourage creates. Some users select to add their Identity folder to Spotlight Privacy tab. Supposedly, Spotlight is not supposed to search a database, but I have not been able to find definitive evidence to support this. Adding it certainly does not hurt anything.
What can I do with these cache files?
They do contain, in a different format, almost all the information in the original message. They contain the attributes of the message (sender, time, subject, etc.) and the first 75kb worth of text from the message’s body. 90+% of messages are 2kb or less once written to the cache.
The format is not what any mail client, including Entourage, expects to see, but if you had catastrophic database failure and no backup, these files can provide some useful info. So the upshot is that if you want to recover a specific, important piece of information, such as an email or phone number, for a message, these files may be useful, but if you are talking about trying to recover lost data en mass, currently there is only a script for Tiger users that works. If you have Tiger and want to test the script out, download Recover Emails from Spotlight Cache by Barry Wainwright.
Saving a Spotlight search as a custom mail view
When you create a search in Entourage using Spotlight, Entourage gives you the option to save the search as a custom Mail View. Click on Save and enter the name in this window:
Entourage saves the search as a custom Mail View. Mail Views are located at the bottom of the Folder window.
Besides being fast, another advantage of using a saved Spotlight search is you can easily find messages scattered in different folders.
Spotlight does not seem to be indexing my Entourage messages.
- Check to see if there are any files have been created at this directory:
- Is the Entourage Database Daemon (Office Reminders/Notifications) turned on?
- Do you have Mail Messages. Contacts, Events & To Do Items selected in Spotlight System Preferences?
- Is “Include Entourage item in search results” checked in the Entourage Preferences: General Preferences
- Have you restarted your Mac?
- Test in a new Identity. I have seen a few cases where no other evidence of database corruption was evident other than Spotlight search failed to work.
How can you force a rebuild with Spotlight?
- Easy way: New to Entourage 2008–Click on the Rebuild button in the Spotlight preference.
- Manually remove the files in the Finder.
- Use the Terminal to rebuild.
You can manually trigger Spotlight indexing in the Terminal by running the following command line tool in Terminal.app:
[Added May 28, 2009] I found this link today that offers some additional tips to troubleshoot Spotlight. Spotlight won’t work? Fix a broken Spotlight menu with these troubleshooting tips
Recommended Reading: Andy Ruff, MacBU Program Management wrote an article, Basics of Spotlight when Spotlight was first introduced that contains basics every user should know.