Native macOS Finder integration with Synology Universal Search

Tutorial Native macOS Finder integration with Synology Universal Search

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Native macOS Finder integration with Synology Universal Search

Aimed at novice users this is a simple and quick tutorial on how to bring the native capabilities of macOS Finder and full integrate them with Synology’s own Universal Search application.

In the out-of-the-box state the Synology search integration with macOS is limited to finding named files and folders that are mounted as a share. Similarly within Synology’s own File Station app you can search for or browse to a named file or folder of your choice.

But what about searching for content within an unknown file in an unknown location - say an item of text or details of a photo, video or a music track?

In the example below there are 2 test files inside of a folder named ‘Test Subject’:

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The actual contents of Test 1 contains my Magnum Opus and my literary genius comprises both ‘Antidisestablishmentarianism’ and ‘Banana’:
3-20210211-Test 1 Contents Screenshot.png

With my NAS ‘Rivendell’ mounted within macOS I can navigate through the folder structure but with little clue as to where my epic work is located:

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Using macOS finder to search the files and folders for ‘Antidisestablishmentarianism’ reveals zero hits:

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To overcome the limitations when searching with macOS finder Synology offers the Universal Search app that not only indexes files and their content for use on the NAS itself, it can also provide the indexed information through to macOS for fully-native Finder searches.

If you don’t have Universal Search installed (and you probably should) it can be found and installed through Package Center:

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Once installed it can be found under the top left menu button:

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When launched for the first time the Universal Search app is a bit barren and there are numerous ways to navigate it and customise it to your liking. Clicking on the cog icon highlighted below brings up the ‘Preference’ pane:

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Next click on the ‘Indexed Folder List’:

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Which will list any folders already set for indexing and offer the ‘Create’ button to craft one of your own:

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When creating an indexed folder you can be as general or specific as you like. If you want to index everything then you can. If you would rather limit indexing to the folders that need it the most then you can do that too. You can also give Universal Search a clue as to the file type, which all helps with the indexing and searching process.

There are some limitations though - only 1000 top-level folders can be indexed but as there is an endless amount of subfolders available below that limit it is unlikely to be an issue. The top-level folder(s) where the index(es) will live has to have enough space to host them and a minimum of a 100MB of free space. If you are still holding on to AFP rather than SMB (and you really should not be) then you have a limit on the number of shared folders that you can view. Last time I looked this feature did not work on the Synology NVR models either; perhaps a DSM7 feature to come.

Once complete, click ok:

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When you are back on the Indexed Folder page you can add more folders (if needed) and the indexing will carry-on as a background task.

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Once the initial indexing is complete, which may take a while if you have a massive amount of content, you can now use macOS Finder from any networked Mac in exactly the same way as you would with a local or internal drive. Typing ‘Antidisestablishmentarianism’ or just a fragment of it will instantly reveal the file(s) that contain that word, straight from the Synology NAS:

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It is a simple function and hopefully this is a simple guide for what is a very powerful and convenient feature. It is regrettable that other OSs such as Windows cannot integrate in the same way but for all those who use macOS and a Synology NAS it should be one of the first items on the to-do list after setting-up Time Machine and planning your wider backup strategy.

Regards to all.

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