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ATPM 13.02
February 2007


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Software Review

by David B. Thompson,

MoRU 1.3.4


Developer: Windstorm Software

Price: $10

Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4. Universal.

Trial: Fully-featured (30 days)

For those of you who follow such things, you know I moved early in January from Texas to Nevada. (If you didn’t know, well, you know now!) So I needed a quick-and-dirty review for this month’s issue of ATPM. The editors run a pretty tight ship.

To continue last month’s theme, then, I still like small, efficient programs that do one task well. I’m also looking for ways to make the embedded components of Tiger work for me. One of those components is Spotlight, which has so much potential that I seem unable to tap. That’s probably a personal lacking on my part, but I think that if I’m not seeing the big picture, then there’s probably at least one other person who, like me, is also failing to see the full impact of the tool.

I came across a small application this month called MoRU (pronounced “moe rue”). It’s an acronym for Most Recently Used. The tool is an interface into Spotlight and offers advanced searching of the OS X filesystem.

Installation and Use

As with most small programs, installation is straightforward. I downloaded the disk image, mounted it, copied MoRU to the Applications folder, and launched it by double-clicking its icon.

There are three entries on the Preferences list: Search Defaults, Quick Search, and General. Search Defaults lets you set a few things, such as the maximum number of hits, the search location, and some additional settings. The defaults work pretty well and they can be tweaked from the main window.


The main program window has three panes: the left pane contains a list of default searches plus any new searches the user adds, the top pane offers a text-input field and a few radio buttons to control the search, and the bottom pane displays search results.


In the example shown above, I was searching for a bibliographic citation, viessman, that I suspected was in a file somewhere on my Mac. Because I expected the text to be inside a file and not a filename, I checked the button to search content. All words and whole words were the other two defaults, but I left them alone.

MoRU accessed the Spotlight database and extracted every file at or below the Home directory on my system for files that contained the word “viessman.” There were 119 hits (displayed on the left pane next to the search). The entries were sorted in most-recently-used order, and the top entry contained the text I was looking for. (It’s a bibliography file used by my writing system, TeXShop.) There were a number of other interesting hits as well, but they were not the files I was looking for.

I could double-click on the entry and the bibliography manager (BibDesk) would open the file so I could find the entry.

MoRU comes with eleven standard searches, arrayed on the left pane of the main window. For example, I clicked on the “Applications” search. MoRU required about fifteen seconds to populate the results pane. (Part of that time was required to spin-up the disk in my MacBook Pro, which was asleep.) According to MoRU, I have 259 applications on my system. They are displayed in most-recently-used order. It’s pretty easy to tell what I use most of the time on my system! (Pay no attention to that Civ IV demo! It’s not mine, I swear! I only do work on my Mac!)


The entries on the results pane are double-clickable, meaning that applications can be launched from within MoRU. Although it isn’t intended to be a Finder replacement, the program does provide access to applications if you want to use it that way.

One of the powerful features of MoRU is the Smart Group. A Smart Group is a specialized search that groups files together based on specific attributes. In the figure below, the attributes chosen for the iTunes Music Smart Group is a location (/Volumes/Digital Music/Music/iTunes) and the Any Audio type file.


I set up a search for all PDF files that contained my last name. The Smart Group is shown below, followed by the results.


The search found 497 PDF files with my name inside. The most-recently used file was 0-5822-ExhibitB.pdf, which is a technical workplan for one of my research projects. I made that PDF this morning to mail to a graduate student. Spotlight indexed the file and MoRU found it for me.


Logical operators are available to extend the searching capability of MoRU. Complex searches with logical AND’s and OR’s are available. The program contains a wealth of features for finding the files you want.

All that power comes with a learning curve. However, unlike some shareware programs, MoRU comes with an excellent help file that contains information useful to end users.


I have a lot of files on my MacBook Pro. My Documents directory contains more than 40,000 (10 GB) files. So, finding what I’m looking for, even with a sophisticated filing system, can be daunting. Spotlight helps, but returns a haystack from a larger haystack. MoRU helps more because it allows me to refine Spotlight searches and reduce the number of hits returned from the Spotlight indexes.

It will be interesting to see if MoRU holds up to the test of time. I’m going to register my copy and we’ll see how frequently I use it. I suspect that it will remain one of those utilities that sits in my Applications directory until I’m really searching for something I need now, and then it will save my carcass when the pressure is on.

I think this is an excellent program, especially for users who, like me, have many files on their systems.

Reader Comments (7)

Steve Lang · February 2, 2007 - 16:29 EST #1
Just to mention- 2 other similar apps are Meta and HoudahSpot.

Moru seems pretty capable though (trying it out now), and is the cheapest- the others are $20 each. The pre-built search templates in Moru seem pretty useful, and not just a gimmick (Office files, iTunes music, etc.)
Kirk Rheinlander · February 11, 2007 - 09:29 EST #2
The thing I most like about MoRU is that you can perform tasks against the search result. Spotlight searches provide the result, but you can't do anything from the spotlight window - it is a read-only function. MoRu, I can delete, move files, rename, etc.

SO, all the power of Spotlight, PLUS the ability to actually do some file maintenance with the results.
David Thompson (ATPM Staff) · February 11, 2007 - 09:42 EST #3
Those are excellent points and I should have given them more attention. That reminds me I need to pay my registration fee and garner a license for the application. Thanks!
Kirk Rheinlander · February 11, 2007 - 11:18 EST #4
I took a look at both Meta (Big Robot) and HoudahSpot. Both are competent SEARCH tools, but I want to do something with the search results, not just launch a single file in finder.

MoRU is far more flexible in defining the search criteria (filename, content, whole or part, etc.) and infinitely more flexible in doing something with the results. I own TidyUp (for removing duplicates), but I end up using MoRU to clean up duplicate files, as it gives me far more control of file management actions.

I used TidyUp on my multiple iPhoto libraries, and ended up deleting duplicate names of the same size that were really different photos, named identically by the camera software. If I had had MoRU then, I would have had the opportunity to preview the images in the MoRU info window, prior to deletion.
Rick · February 17, 2007 - 06:54 EST #5
Probably overkill for most people, but an interesting addition to MoRU is SpotMeta.
It allows you to extend Spotlight by adding categories and real tags to files.
Of course, for this to be useful you have to be committed to taking the time to add these metadata to your files. But an option is to just do it with some very important files, so that you don't have to depend on (for example) having actually included your name in the PDF you're looking for.
David Thompson (ATPM Staff) · February 17, 2007 - 09:40 EST #6
It's too early in the morning and I haven't had coffee yet. Which means I better go make some... BRB... OK, coffee is on (sigh).

Kirk, those are good observations and one of the reasons I like MoRU.

Rick, that's a huge commitment in time and energy! I've been updating my bibliography databases the last couple of days (I've been a professional researcher) and that's a substantial work with only a few hundred entries. I suppose it would be useful in an environment where one had a professional librarian assigned to maintain a database of files that a number of users would access. But, for a singleton user (like you or me), I can't ever see investing the energy to maintain tags on my file library.

But, you're right, if one only had a few files they really wanted to track, it could be done.

Good comments!
Michael Tsai (ATPM Staff) · February 17, 2007 - 10:20 EST #7
Rick: SpotMeta is pretty neat, but at the present time I don't think I'd want to enter my information that way because the metadata that it adds is fragile. There are lots of OS X operations and applications that will not preserve it, since Apple hasn't yet provided a good way for them to do that.

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