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How to Index Archives with StuffIt

StuffIt Deluxe includes technology that extends the capabilities of Spotlight to allow it to search for files that have been stored in an archive. Introduced in StuffIt 11 for Macintosh, StuffIt Index Archives make this feature even more useful by adding the ability to search archives even when they have been moved to CDs, DVDs, or other "offline" locations. Created at the same time as a regular StuffIt X archive, an Index Archive contains a complete list of all the files stored in its "parent" StuffIt file. These Index Archives are fully searchable, and can be opened and browsed using the Archive Manager application. At a fraction of the size of a regular StuffIt X archive, Index Archives can be stored on your computer while the full version of the archive is moved to a CD or DVD to save you space. StuffIt Standard users should consider upgrading to the StuffIt Deluxe suite to take full advantage of these features.

Using Index Archives

Index Archives can be created using Archive Manager, MagicMenu/StuffIt Contextual Menu, and DropStuff. The creation of Index Archives can be turned on and off in DropStuff, Magic Menu and Archive Manager but is always enabled in Archive Manager's Scheduler feature.

To enable the creation of Index Archives in DropStuff, simply check the "Create Index Archive" box in the DropStuff Profiles setup window. To create Index Archives with Archive Manager and MagicMenu/StuffIt Contextual Menu, open the preferences dialog and check the "Create Index Archives" option on the "StuffIt" tab of the "Compression" options page.

You can also create Index Archives of existing StuffIt X archives. Just select the archive in the Finder, then use MagicMenu/StuffIt Contextual Menu's "Create Index" option.

StuffIt Index Archives are stored in a common location; you'll find these files in the "~/StuffIt/Indexes/" Folder on your hard drive. StuffIt X Index Archives are differentiated by a yellow icon and a .sidx file extension.

You can view any Index Archives that have been created on your computer by launching the Archive Manager application, and clicking on the "StuffIt X Indexes" collection. If you double click any of the listed index files, they will open in browse mode in an Archive Manager window. Remember that a StuffIt X Index Archive is not an archive; it's a proxy of an archive. When browsing an Index Archive you can view the files and folder hierarchy of the parent archive, but you cannot directly open any of the files that are listed.

The primary limitation of an Index Archive is that it won't allow you to open or expand a file directly. Its purpose it to serve as a pointer that lets you know in which archive a particular file is stored. The original archive must be opened before you can expand any of the files it contains.