Mail Search on MacOS Catalina

Note: This blog post strays away from our usual focus on tips & tricks. It does not provide a solution or workaround for Mail searches on macOS Catalina. It rather discusses technical background and ethical considerations.

Spotlight vs. Core Spotlight

Recent versions of macOS use two indexing technologies to power local searches in the Spotlight window: Spotlight and Core Spotlight.

Spotlight was introduced with OS X 10.4 Tiger. It indexes user files. Whenever a file is modified, the Spotlight engine calls upon the appropriate importer plug-in to read metadata and text content from the file. That data is then indexed for searching.

The fact that Spotlight works only with files can be a problem for some applications. For “shoebox” applications, it is often more natural to store data items in a single file or database rather than use one file per data item. Such data items cannot be indexed by Spotlight. Thus such applications either have to change their data storage to fit Spotlight’s requirements or resort to tricks to get their data into Spotlight.

Core Spotlight is a more recent addition. Core Spotlight does not watch for data or files to appear. Instead, applications actively submit data to Core Spotlight for indexing. This reversal of roles allows Core Spotlight to index any kind of data.  Continue reading Mail Search on MacOS Catalina

Tagging Files Using HoudahSpot

After looking at file tags for organizing files as well as some more creative uses, we looked at using HoudahSpot to find tagged files. Now let’s look at tagging files using HoudahSpot.

Tagging multiple files
File tagging pop-over in HoudahSpot

Again, there are different methods you can choose from. Pick the one that best fits your workflow or personal preference. Continue reading Tagging Files Using HoudahSpot

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.

Continue reading Use HoudahSpot to Search for Tagged Files

How-to: Customize the HoudahSpot Alfred Workflow

Alfred by Running with Crayons Ltd. is an award-winning app for macOS which boosts your efficiency with hotkeys, keywords, text expansion and more.

HoudahSpot is a powerful file search tool. It takes the guesswork out of Spotlight searches and helps you find files hidden deep in the “haystack” of files accumulated over the years.

HoudahSpot 5 includes an Alfred workflow that provides an elegant way to start a HoudahSpot search using Alfred. You can install this workflow from HoudahSpot > Preferences > Extensions.

Note: Workflows are part of the extended Alfred feature set. This needs to be unlocked by purchasing the Alfred Powerpack .

Screenshot: Alfred in action
Start a file search from Alfred

The workflow is triggered using the hs keyword in Alfred. You may need to use the arrow keys to select the workflow. Press the space key to activate the workflow.

Continue reading How-to: Customize the HoudahSpot Alfred Workflow

How-to: Correct an Incorrect Camera Time on Photos

When you import photos into HoudahGeo, it asks about your camera clock settings. HoudahGeo needs accurate time information so it can match photos to GPS tracklogs. Thus HoudahGeo needs to know what time zone your camera clock was set to and if the clock was going slow or fast.

Let’s look at an example. You traveled to Croatia but left your camera clock set to UK time. The camera had been left unused for a while and the clock is going 5 minutes fast.

Camera clock settings. Camera was set to UK time going 5 minutes fas
Camera clock set to UK time. Going 5 minutes fast

Continue reading How-to: Correct an Incorrect Camera Time on Photos

Is HoudahSpot Optimized for Upcoming Versions of macOS?

You may have seen the following warning: “HoudahSpot” is not optimized for your Mac and needs to be updated. Worry not, HoudahSpot 5.0 is “optimized” for current and future versions of macOS.

Caveat: macOS 10.15 Catalina bans third-party applications from searching the Mail.app Spotlight index. On macOS Catalina, HoudahSpot will thus no longer be able to find your Apple Mail messages. If you rely on HoudahSpot to search your mail messages, we recommend that you voice your concerns through Apple’s Feedback Assistant.

Continue reading Is HoudahSpot Optimized for Upcoming Versions of macOS?

Using HoudahGeo With Cameras That Provide Altitude Measurements but No GPS Coordinates

Some GPS cameras use a barometer to determine the current altitude. These cameras can write altitude information to photos even when the GPS feature is switched off. This is often seen in Panasonic cameras.

The camera creates photos that have altitude information, but lack latitude and longitude coordinates. This comes as a bit of a surprise to HoudahGeo and requires a few additional clicks on your part.

Continue reading Using HoudahGeo With Cameras That Provide Altitude Measurements but No GPS Coordinates

Other Uses for macOS File Tags

We have seen that file tags can be used to build or complement a filing system.

File tags can also be used to temporarily mark files. Since macOS has the handy ability to assign colors to file tags, such tags can be used to visually identify files. Both Finder and HoudahSpot flag the tagged files with colors of their tags.

This is particularly useful when shifting files around, merging folders, exporting photos to files, etc.

Screenshot: File tags in Finder used to mark files in a merged folder
Merged Folder: Files from 3 Different Sources

Continue reading Other Uses for macOS File Tags

Search DEVONthink 3 Databases using HoudahSpot

This is a follow-up to an older post. It has been updated for the new DEVONthink 3. Users of the older DEVONthink Pro (Office) can refer to the original post.

DEVONthink is a smart document management solution for Mac. It lets you organize and work with all your documents — bookmarks, email messages, text files, images, PDFs — in one place, regardless of where they come from.

Now that you have all your documents stored and organized in DEVONthink, you can rely on both DEVONthink and HoudahSpot to always find the piece of information you need.

Continue reading Search DEVONthink 3 Databases using HoudahSpot

HoudahSpot and ForkLift

Recent updates improve the integration between Houdah Software’s HoudahSpot and BinaryNights’ ForkLift.

HoudahSpot is a file search tool that helps Mac users organize files and finds these if they did not.

ForkLift is an advanced dual pane file manager and file transfer client for macOS. With ForkLift you can browse, manage, and organize files. ForkLift can access remote volumes, sync folders, and much more

ForkLift

The Search in HoudahSpot command in ForkLift allows you to start a HoudahSpot search focussed on the folder you are currently browsing in ForkLift. It is found in the Commands menu.

This tool makes use of HoudahSpot’s custom URL scheme. It can be customized from the Commands > Manage Tools… menu item. Refer to the ForkLift User Manual for more details about custom tools. The HoudahSpot User Guide describes the various options of the houdahspot4:// URL scheme.

Screenshot: ForkLift. Search in HoudahSpot
ForkLift Commands Menu: Search in HoudahSpot

Continue reading HoudahSpot and ForkLift