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ATPM 3.03
March 1997



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Review: Retrieve It!

by Robert Madill,

Product Information
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.

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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.

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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."

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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...

[apple graphic] This review is ©1997 Robert Madill, Mr. Madill is a Professor of Art and Architectural History on the faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Reader Comments (8)

Irving Fang · June 16, 2005 - 12:04 EST #1
I downloaded the ATPM 3.03 to my Mac, which put some symbols of a blue apple on my desktop that I cannot trash because I do not have OS9. I have OS 10.3.9.

How do I drag the symbols to trash?
ATPM Staff · June 16, 2005 - 21:47 EST #2
Irving - we're just a little perplexed. What you downloaded is one of the old DOCmaker files—the format in which ATPM used to be distributed. Those DOCmaker files' icon was the blue apple. They cannot be opened natively in Mac OS X, but if you can run programs in Classic environment, you can view it that way. As for deleting the file, just drag it to the trash can in your OS X Dock.
Deborah Danowski · October 10, 2005 - 14:48 EST #3
Writing in 2005, my computer now runs in Tiger, but I still keep my copy of Retrieve It! (version 1.1), to the amazement of my friends. It still works, though not always and only partially, and I still find it can do better searches than Spotlight. Do you know where I can download a more recent (less distant) version? Is there anything similar to it now?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · October 10, 2005 - 19:43 EST #4
Deborah - I'm rather fond of the search capabilities of Path Finder (an OS X Finder replacement).
Deborah Danowski · June 15, 2006 - 00:49 EST #5
Thanks, Lee. It was not until today (June 2006) that I saw you answer. I already downloaded Path Finder and will give it a try. Then I'll comment
Gigi · July 3, 2006 - 17:06 EST #6
HAVE NEVER FOUND ANYTHING BETTER than RetrieveIt at all. Sherlock in mac sucks. I remember before the dog they had the cheetah which was way kewl. From what I have been told the software upgrade was not continued and perhaps it was absorbed into another p roduct. However they were nice enough a few years ago to get me updated...My copy is version 2.6b2 By the way does anyone realize with RetrieveIt that it also read code? If you saved your passwords to aol in the program when queried RetrieveIt would read past the encryption and show the actual password!!! LOL
Gigi · July 3, 2006 - 17:13 EST #7
This is to Robert whom I think started this quest for RetrieveIt. Robert what world do you live in? The fact that RetrieveIt in any version is superior to Find/Sherlock, etc should be a no brainer. Perhaps it was government owned. You know if it's not bro ke let's spend a million to fix it then lose it. To people who have never used RI they surely are and have missed out. For 10 years+ it has saved my business, my family, and my sanity. Find does not even come near to ever picking anything up. RI blows t hrough 20,000 files and wham there it is. I can think of a few improvements I would make but then again no way. Gigi
PS, You are right it was Claris and it took forever to find the new name and then when it would not work with the 9.0 system and needed a tweek or two it took awhile to get to them. WHERE ARE THEY NOW?g
boscojones · December 1, 2009 - 18:13 EST #8
I miss retrieve it sooo much!

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