I did not like Spotlight before Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). It was too slow, and it really didn't help me much.. A lot of folks, including me, actually disabled Spotlight because there was just no point in it..
That's all changed with Leopard. Spotlight is now probably my second most favorite feature in OS X (with the first being Time Machine).
The big change comes mostly from speed, and secondly from being able to adjust the order of results:
It's speed that the clincher, though. An eye opening moment for me was when I realized that Spotlight could find something in my downloaded Gmail messages faster than Gmail itself could find it on-line! That is impressive - I stumbled across that accidentally and now depend upon it for most Gmail searching. What makes it particularly nice is the incremental nature of the search results - that they start appearing as I type. That alone saves time, because I can stop typing when I see that I have the results I wanted.
By the way, when you know you only want to search mail messages, type "kind:mail" as part of your search.. there are 124 other "kind" searches you can do, also.
I also use Spotlight as an application launcher - something I ver thought I'd do, but it is significantly faster than opening the Applications folder. Most of the time, it's even faster than Apple-tabbing to an open app - I almost wonder what I need the Dock for now.
Spotlight does still have its limitations though, especially for those of us from a Unix background who aren't used to putting extensions on files. If I create a file "tttt" with the contents "frgnilaloff", Spotlight won't index it - I have to call it "tttt.txt" if I want it in Spotlight's domain. However, that's not so horrible, because most such files I might create are just transient junk that I don't really care about. Eventually there will probably be some hack to fix that kind of thing, but right now Spotlight's plist files are depressingly empty..
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