Use “Service Station” to Start a HoudahSpot File Search From Finder

Service Station is a new utility by Knurling Group to customize the Finder context menu with applications and scripts. It is a free download with in-app purchases on the Mac App Store.Screenshot: Finder Context Menu with Service Station Extension

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

You can point HoudahSpot at a particular Finder folder using the Services menu or the HoudahSpot Finder toolbar item.

Service Station can put HoudahSpot at the top level of the Finder context menu. You can then right-click or control-click a selection of folders in Finder and start a new HoudahSpot search within these folders.

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Quick Access to HoudahSpot Search Templates

In HoudahSpot, search templates serve as starting points for searches that you perform repeatedly.

HoudahSpot comes with a set of sample templates. These include, for example, a template for finding photos. This template is set up to search for image files having a resolution of at least 7 MP. Search results show image previews. The Refine pane is pre-configured for searches by camera make and model, ISO speed, and flash settings. To find photos you just need to fill in the blanks and start the search.

Templates can also act as dynamic file lists. The Recent Files template, for example, lists files used or modified within the last 7 days.

You will certainly create your own templates or customize the sample templates to fit your needs. You may, for example, want to update the My Photos template to search only for files matching your camera make and model.

As templates become a central part of your workflow, you will want quick access to your favorite ones.

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Apply Color Tags to Files Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

In previous posts, we looked at how using tags can help you organize your files and folders and quickly locate them when they’re needed.

We have already explored the different ways you can use HoudahSpot to tag files. In this post, we will focus on keyboard shortcuts for fast tagging.

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Find Multiple Files. Find Files From a List of Names

HoudahSpot is a file search tool that builds upon macOS Spotlight. You turn to HoudahSpot when you need to:

  • Find a specific file. The proverbial needle in a haystack. A specific song. A letter you want to use as a template
  • Browse files related to a specific task or subject. Review research material, documentation, client correspondence, etc.
  • Collect files that share a common property. Tagged files. Photos and videos from last summer

What if you need a specific set of files? E.g. multiple files of which you have the names in an email, a CSV list, or a spreadsheet. HoudahSpot can help you with that too.

HoudahSpot: Find Files From a List of Names
Search for a list of files

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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.

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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.

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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?