In Mac OS X’s Finder, you can save searches as “Smart Folders”. These give you quick access to all your files that meet certain criteria. For example, all Microsoft Word files modified this month. All JPG photos taken with a specific camera. Or all e-mails you’ve received from certain senders within the last seven days.
Because Mac OS X Smart Folders are actually saved searches, they differ from regular folders: they don’t actually hold anything – they only list files stored elsewhere. The content of Smart Folder is not static but dynamic. It is updated continuously as new files come to meet the smart folder’s search criteria. This means that its content changes every time files on your Mac are added, changed, or removed.
With HoudahSpot (4.1 or later), you can easily set up a search and export it as a Finder Smart Folder.
In HoudahSpot, snippets let you to set aside frequently used combinations of search criteria. HoudahSpot comes with a few pre-installed snippets, but you can also define your own.
Snippets can hold a single search criterion or a group of criteria that serve a certain purpose. The pre-installed snippet “Date Created range”, for example, holds two criteria in an “All of the following are true” group: “Content created before” and “Content created after”. Use this snippet whenever you want to find files created in a range of dates.
Sometimes, you get a list of file names and need to find the actual files. You may be a photographer who sent out a contact sheet for photo proofing and got back an email listing the images to be printed. Or you may have sent friends messages with tiny photos and got a reply asking for larger copies of images 7359, 7365 and 7366.
You can use HoudahSpot to find out whether a specific file on your Mac has identical twins somewhere in your file system.
This comes in handy if you want to make sure you have a backup copy before you start working on a file. Or you may want to check if a specific file – e.g. in your Dropbox folder – is a copy and not the original before you delete it.
What can you do if your file search produces too many results? You’ll need to narrow down your search, and one way to do this is by specifying or excluding search locations. This refocuses the search on certain folders and excludes others.