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Use HoudahSpot to Search for Tagged Files

In previous posts, we saw how to organize files using folders and tags and looked at other uses of tags and labels.

Let’s move on to the most important step: finding your files. HoudahSpot can, of course, search for files by tags or by a combination of tags.

Favorite Tags

The most obvious way to search for tagged files uses the sidebar of a HoudahSpot search window. Select View > Show Sidebar from the menu to reveal the sidebar.

Click a tag to find files with that tag.

Click the All Tagged Files item in the sidebar to find files that have at least one tag.

You can set up your list of favorite tags in HoudahSpot > Preferences > Tags. These show in the sidebar of your HoudahSpot search windows and come up as suggestions both when searching and when tagging files.

Screenshot: HoudahSpot. Favorite File Tags
Configure Favorite Tags and Keyboard Shortcuts in HoudahSpot Preferences


You can also assign keyboard shortcuts to your favorite tags. These are used for quick file tagging. More on file tagging will follow in an upcoming post.


You can refine a search by adding a Tags criterion: In the Refine pane select Other… from one of the criterion pop-up menus. HoudahSpot brings up a list of possible criteria. Type “Tags” into the search field and select the item described as “Tags associated with this item”. Click the OK button. Configure your criterion by typing in the name of a tag or by picking it from the drop-down menu.

If you frequently search by file tags, you will want to add the Tags criterion to your default search setup.

For favorite tags, the procedure is much easier: simply drag a tag from the sidebar into to Refine pane.


You can, of course, search for a combination of tags. Just add several Tags criteria to your search. This is where the true power of tags show: you can, for example, search for files tagged both “electricity” and “bill”.

Screenshot: HoudahSpot search for tagged files
Search for tagged files. Find “electricity” “bill” PDF files


Templates and Snippets

You may want to save such searches as templates. Templates also show in the sidebar. Getting to all your electricity bills will then only take one click.

Frequently used combinations of search criteria can also be saved as Snippets. You can, for example, save the “All of the following is true” group as a snippet. This will show in the sidebar. You can then add the saved criteria to new searches by dragging the snippet from the sidebar to the Refine pane.

Screenshot: Save search criteria for reuse
Save search criteria as “snippets”

Quick Search

The main search field at the top of the HoudahSpot search window can also find tagged files. By default, the search field looks into “Any Text” associated with your files. This includes not only names and text content, but also file tags.

Search for “electricity” and you will find files where electricity is mentioned as well as files that have the “electricity” tag.

From the Search > Search By menu item you can set the main search field to search by “Any Text”, “Text Content”, or “Name” only.

No matter what setting you choose, the search field has a special syntax that allows you to refine your search. Refer to section 9.2 of the HoudahSpot User Guide for details.

To search for that have the “electricity” tag, type: