Review: Retrieve It!
Distributed By: MVP Solutions©
Phone: (415) 562-3457
Street Price: $65 U.S.
Requirements Apple Macintosh® Plus or above
System 7 or higher
307K disk space with Online Help
A good dog should be personable, faithful to its master or mistress, easy to maintain, able to perform masterful tricks with ease and accuracy, have a considerable "bite" disguised by a gentle "woof" and sit patiently in the background ready to assist its owner in any manner possible for such a blindly gentle soul. Well, this animal spirit exists electronically in the application Retrieve It![TM] 2.5, © from MVP Solutions.
Installation is quite simple. While this descriptor may have become predictable for a piece of software to pass muster, remember that so many of today's software installations demand that you restart your Mac with all extensions off, or with the minimal set-up to run an installation from a CD. It is easy to be lazy and not follow those simple rules. The result is often a damaged System! I must admit that, in my eagerness to install a program or utility, I have broken these basic rules...and lived to regret it!
It is easy to drag all 202K of the Retrieve It! application from the floppy disk into the Apple Menu Items Folder nested inside your System Folder without restarting. This lean and mean little "puppy" is not an extension. As such, you can expect a hard drive "pet" with few "dysfunctional family" conflicts. The program, accompanied by a readable and informative hard copy manual, is further supplemented by an equally useful on-line manual which should be deposited in the System Folder.
Before I delve too deeply into the merits of Retrieve It! 2.5, I have to first mention one useful feature. When you launch the program, you can check for software updates by accessing an option called "About Retrieve It!..." from the Apple Icon in your Menu bar. Two clicks later and your Web Browser is launched and pointed to the MVP site for assistance or application upgrade downloads. An update to the 2.5 version was posted on January 5, 1997. Therefore, this review is really about Retrieve It! 2.5.1.
I purchased the original Retrieve It! in 1993 when it was a Claris Corporation product. At that stage, I was amazed by its superiority to the "Find File..." utility that was native to the Macintosh. Years of further development only highlight how antiquated the Macintosh approach to file searching has become. Not only is Retrieve It! faster, simpler to use, and more intuitively friendly, it has a clean and sharp interface with a simplicity that belies the complex "Find" parameters it offers.
Years ago, I was among many members of the Macintosh user community who dutifully paid their shareware fees for a utility called "Window Shade." Macintosh got smart and decided to incorporate that valuable utility into their newer operating systems. Bravo! Perhaps a repeat performance may occur with Retrieve It! Given the starkly dead nature of "Find File..." I would applaud a new Macintosh Operating System that incorporated something resembling Retrieve It! as a standard OS inclusion.
Down to business. Retrieve It! quickly and efficiently searches through any or all of the hundreds of files and folders on your hard drive, removable media, CD-ROMs, and even e-mail correspondence for specific words, phrases, file or folder names. The assumption is that, although you may have forgotten the location of a document, you can quickly and easily narrow your search by using a single word or phrase that you can recall. The search yields a scrolling list of potential candidates.
You may then choose to "Peek" at the file or you can "Open" the file in its creator application and examine the relevance of the find. Once you've identified the correct document or file, a "Reveal" command takes you directly to the location of the material. From there you can move, copy, or trash. The sophistication of the program extends itself to using Boolean operators (OR, NOT, AND, BEFORE, etc.) and to specifying the maximum spacing between key search words. If that isn't narrow enough, you can, among other options, specify creation and modification dates or the most likely "creator" application of the document or file you are "tracking."
This "hound" is not only speedy at home with your private hard drive, but is a valuable "thoroughbred" when you let it out of your backyard into the world at large. Retrieve It! has the ability to launch your favorite Web Browser, be it Netscape Navigator, NCSA Mosaic, Microsoft Internet Explorer or your AOL service. It then integrates with Internet search "engines" of your choice: AltaVista, Excite, HotBot, InfoSeek UltraSmart, Lycos, WebCrawler and Yahoo, among others. You must remember that Retrieve It! is not acting as the "search engine." Retrive It! simply shortens the number of steps necessary to reach the final "query" page from which you select your own final URL destinations (rather like cutting out the middleman in your final "purchase"). The time saved is very noticeable! This feature is one of the most powerful aspects of this utility. Judicious use of the Retrieve It! search "syntax" can obtain speedier results than a standard browser-driven process allows.
Well, this "dog" can take many more "walks" through the vast neighborhood of Web: news, classified ads, stock prices, dictionaries, references, people's e-mail addresses, etc. The 2.5.1 upgrade provides a new "Mac Stuff" search in its Internet menu. This is a fine adjunct to the listing of the URL's compiled in the "Page O' Links you can find in ATPM 3.02! In my opinion this is one utility with an excellent pedigree, great price and a track record worthy of computer companionship. Now if it could only find my car keys, wallet and sunglasses...