What made Sherlock very different from the previous Find File was that it could search the contents of documents (but which also required an indexing of all documents or a selection of documents).
Under the Classic Mac OS (Mac OS 8.5 - Mac OS 9.2.2) as well as version of Mac OS X before Mac OS X 10.2, Sherlock was both an Internet search engine, as well as an application which was responsible for file-finding.
As of Mac OS X 10.2, Sherlock is solely responsible for Web content.
Sherlock in Mac OS 8.5
- Main article: Sherlock (Mac OS 8.5)
Sherlock started out life in Mac OS 8.5 as a third tab of the Find File application. The third tab named "Search Internet" was where the power of Sherlock was unleashed.
It had only one channel and no additional channels within (unlike Sherlock 2), although you could search from a multitude of different web sites.
- Main article: Sherlock 2
Sherlock 2 debuted with Mac OS 9 and represented a great leap forward for Sherlock. Now "a thing of its own", it kept the Find File portion for the files on the hard drive and other drives, while taking a life into its own. Multiple channels were introduced, and a huge influx of new search sites were preinstalled.
With Mac OS 9.1, an Entertainment channel also made its way into Sherlock 2.
Sherlock 2 continued to exist even in a Mac OS X version before the next update. The original Sherlock 2 was transformed into the Aqua "look" (typical of Mac OS X), and Find File remained a part of Sherlock 2 for Mac OS X until it was replaced by Sherlock 3 in Mac OS X 10.2.
Saved searches and preset searches were also special features which existed in Sherlock 2.
- Main article: Sherlock 3
Sherlock 3 debuted with Mac OS X 10.2 and ditched the hard drive Find File option -- it became a web-services-only application. The Find File option, meanwhile, were left to be dealt with by the Finder.
The new Sherlock offered not only new channels, but also web services -- such as maps, flight information, and the extremely useful translations option. Sherlock 3 is very similar to a previous Mac OS X program called Watson.
Sherlock search technology saw a relatively rapid adoption, with web sites rushing to churn out Sherlock plugins which could be installed on your computer.