Searching Apple Mail Messages

The good news: HoudahSpot 6.0 can again find Apple Mail message files!

With macOS 10.15 Catalina, Apple moved the indexing of Mail messages files from traditional Spotlight to “Core Spotlight.” The problem with this change is that Core Spotlight does not allow searching by third-party applications like HoudahSpot.

More precisely, applications are only allowed to search data they have submitted themselves. Thus the Mail application can call upon Core Spotlight to find messages. Core Spotlight is of no use to search tools like HoudahSpot. HoudahSpot does not manage or create data and thus never has data to submit to Core Spotlight. Instead, as a HoudahSpot user, you expect to find all kinds of files regardless of which application created the files.

This limitation of Core Spotlight does not only interfere with search tools. Many other utilities, scripts, and productivity tools suffer from the fact that messages, notes, and bookmarks are no longer searchable. Previously, a contact manager like BusyContacts could rely on Spotlight to watch for mail messages and maintain an activity list for each contact.

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