Mac Search function (10.3)

About a year ago I moved to OS 10.3x (Panther), and found the Mac search function I’d depended on for decades had been destroyed by progress.

It used to be that I would hit Apple-F, type in a few letters and “instantly” see all files with those letters in the name. Now I type in the letters and get dozens or hundreds of files that may or may not have those letters in the name.

I assume the computer is listing all files that include those letters in their contents.

That would be fine, except that it takes 8-15 seconds to locate them all, and I can’t set the software to do it the old way. Also, if I try to click on a name before all the activity is finished, I frequently click on the wrong name because the list is constantly lengthening on the screen.

Yes, I can open an options box that lets me specify that only files with my search letters in their names get shown, but I can’t set that as the default.

–I have to type in my search.
–Open the “name includes” option box
–Type in my search term again

A four second procedure has turned into a 25 second procedure.

My question:
Is there a better way?

I usually don’t automatically go with the newest Mac OS, because my computer is five years old and I figure a newer OS will be bigger and slower. However, if Tiger or Leopard have a better search function I might spend $125 to make the switch.