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HoudahSpot: 10 Years of Successful Searching on the Mac

10 years ago, we released the very first version of what came to be one of the most popular search tools on the Mac: HoudahSpot.

When Apple introduced Spotlight search with Mac OS 10.4 Tiger in 2005, we felt that the Spotlight technology had a lot of potential. It allowed for blindingly fast file searches by relying on an index. We soon realized, however, that the interface lacked the finesse needed to pinpoint the files we were looking for.

This is when the idea for HoudahSpot was born: combine the speed of the Spotlight index with the flexibility and precision of standard file search. On the 8th of May 2006, HoudahSpot 1.0 was released.

With HoudahSpot, building precise searches now became a matter of just a few clicks. A simple search form allowed for searching for files by name, text content, dates, as well as many other file properties. As Macworld reviewer Rob Griffith put it in 2008:

“HoudahSpot takes the power of Spotlight (…) and makes it both more powerful and easier to use. (…) you can use it to easily create complex saved searches that would be very complicated to construct (if possible at all) in the Finder.” (Macworld, 01/16/2008)

10 years after its launch, these are still the core features of HoudahSpot. As time changed and technology advanced, we were able to make improvements and add refinements to our search utility. Just take a look at HoudahSpot and how it presented itself a decade ago:

Old HoudahSpot Screenshots
HoudahSpot, 10 years ago: Once the search was started, search criteria were hidden to make room for the results

The first version of HoudahSpot had to be very economical with screen real estate. HoudahSpot was developed on an iBook with a screen resolution of just 800×600 pixels. The HoudahSpot window had space only to show search criteria. Once the search was started, search criteria had to be hidden to make room to show results.

Screenshot of HoudahSpot 4
HoudahSpot today: Search Criteria, Results & Preview in the same window

Today, HoudahSpot presents search results next to search criteria. To the right, HoudahSpot even finds room to show file information or previews. This layout makes it much easier to explore search results and progressively refine searches until results come down to a manageable size.

Looking back, we are very proud of how much HoudahSpot has evolved over the past 10 years. This is largely due to feedback and support from our users.

After all, we owe it to our loyal customers that we celebrate 10 successful years of HoudahSpot today – thank you very much!