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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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

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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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.

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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

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ScreenCastsOnline: HoudahSpot Video Tutorial

Don McAllister of ScreenCastsOnline takes you on a tour of the new HoudahSpot 5.0.

HoudahSpot supercharges your macOS searches. HoudahSpot uses the same index as Spotlight but uses its own optimized user interface and powerful feature set to make searching much faster and so much easier.

Don walks you through many of HoudahSpot’s options for finding and working with files. Along the way, Don highlights some of the new features in HoudahSpot 5, gives a couple of tips for working with HoudahSpot, and points out some of the lesser-known features.

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How-to: Customize the HoudahSpot LaunchBar Action

Objective Development’s LaunchBar is an adaptive app launcher, document browser, and much 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 a LaunchBar action that provides an elegant way to start a HoudahSpot search using LaunchBar. You can install this action from HoudahSpot > Preferences > Extensions.

Screenshot: LaunchBar in action
Start a file search from LaunchBar 6

The action is selected by typing the hs abbreviation in LaunchBar.

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