You are desperately trying to find that document that you worked on last month, but you can't remember it's name or where you saved it? Spotlight can help, but by using tags or labels, you can help classify your documents and find stuff faster.
By applying a tag or metadata your documents will be easier to classify and sort. You can use this approach whether to just dump everything into one folder or have a neurotically organised uber-directory structure of hierarchical folders. Either way, you will benefit from applying tags.
More resources:For everything to do with tagging on a Mac try http://tagamac.com/
Finding stuff (paid for, but with the option to try):
Leap http://www.ironicsoftware.com/leap/index.html very iTunes like, lots of features. Leap allows you to search for files and quickly tag them. Leap can be heavily customised and offers a logical way of searching and grouping your documents. When Leap is running there is a menu bar feature with a clickable "bread crumb trail" of filters to find and isolate files and a pop-out window for quick tagging on the right side of your screen rather like Yojimbo, this is a very slick application with many customisable features. The typical default file types (Word, Keynote etc.) recognised by Leap can increased to any particular file type you wish to allow for fast searchign of files that are important to you. Leap handles tagging and searches, but gets close to being a Finder replacement with copy and move commands. Definitely worth experimenting with in the trial period of the demo download.
Free applications that make Spotlight more powerful:
Easyfind from Devonthink, the publishers of powerful organising and cataloguing software, fast and simple interface, uses multithreading for speed http://www.devon-technologies.com/products/freeware/
Punakea, a versatile tagging utility, free application, but please give a donation to the developer if you find that you rely on it. Has a tag cloud like many Web2.0 sites (think flickr) which helps visualise your content. Allows you to manage, apply and search tags quickly. Simple iTunes style interface. Much simpler than mucking around with scripts for tagging multiple groups of files. Punakea can also move files into a managed folder if you wish.
Spotlaser from Frovil Heavy Industies takes a little practice with the interface but yields good results allows you to narrow down your searches applying various filters. Results are displayed in a normal finder window, which means you can then use QuickLook if you're running Leopard.
For the latest versions of dozens of applications which use or enhance Spotlight check this list from MacUpdate
Another good idea is to add the Spotlight plugin for searching inside zip files. Try the Spotlight plugins section of the Apple Downloads site for the latest version. BetterZip provide a good free QuickLook plugin to show the contents of zip archives for Leopard users.
Quicksilver can also be used for tagging and searching if you're a keyboard orientated person. Quicksilver, is a minimalist but very powerful application but this is one of its many features (freeware). You'll either love it or hate it.
Metadata: this is data that describes other data, such as a library filing system grouping together "fiction" or "reference" books. The tag or label "fiction" is the metadata for a type of book. This principle can be seen in iTunes where songs can be labelled by genre.