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.
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.
It’s already been a year since we released HoudahSpot 5.0. In that time HoudahSpot saw a series of minor updates bring enhancements, compatibility with macOS 10.15 Catalina, and – yes – bug fixes.
HoudahSpot 5.1 adds a handful of improvements. These are not so much features as seemingly small tweaks that will delight you by subtly improving your file searching experience.
Enhanced Quick Look Preview
XMP sidecars are files that sit next to image files to hold metadata like location information, keywords, and description. Precisely this rich information sometimes makes it easier to find the sidecars than the actual image files. Yet it is the images we want to see. Quick Look preview in HoudahSpot 5.1 locates the image file associated with the XMP sidecar and uses that image for a preview.
DEVONthink is a smart document management solution for Mac. It can catalog, organize, and work with any type of file. When HoudahSpot 5.1 comes upon a DEVONthink item it will call upon Quick Look to show a preview of the cataloged file.
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden
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.
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
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.