HoudahSpot We introduced it two years ago. This advanced file search software based on the Spotlight search engine ushered in the fourth generation update this week. Only when the Yosemite system is installed can the TA be used.

HS can be said to be a representative work of accurate file search on the Mac platform, you can use hundreds of parameters to accurately search for files on the hard disk, such as file name, content, date modified, tag information, and even the pixel value of the image. Whether it’s an image stored before iPhoto, an MP3 music file that hasn’t been imported into iTunes, or an old device backup data that hasn’t been sorted yet, you can use the directory customization, file type, date modified, etc. to accurately filter the target file.

The four generations of HS are not the type of “first lover”. Although the interface design fits the flat design style of Yosemite, the value is not high, and if you carefully use the minutes, you will find that the new design is clear. All operations are gathered in four major sections, see the following figure:

Compared to the third generation, the new version has the leftmost Sidebar and the rightmost Details Panel, plus a quick search bar at the top, and the introduction of the popular Multi-Tabs, which is multi-tab work.

Let’s talk about these new modules in turn:


The soul function of HS is Refine Search, but Templates/Snippets is available in the new Sidebar to improve the design efficiency of Refine Search.

Template & Snippet

When you use Refine Search to create a new combination of search criteria that matches your goals, you can save the TA as a Template “template” or a Snippet “snippet” for quick recall of subsequent operations.

HS 4 has a built-in set of Sample Templates, including Apple Mail Messages, Applications, Long Lost Files and other eight templates. Let’s take the example of “Apple Mail Messages” to explain Refine Search:

Click Sidebar – Sample Templates – Apple Mail Messages to automatically create a “New Search Tab”

Then you can enter the sender (here called “author”), the recipient, the subject, the text content and other filter conditions (officially called Criteria Attributes) to find the email you want, very simple, if you want to continue to refine To search for a target, click on the “+” button on the right side of the existing Criteria and select Criteria such as “flagged” and “received date” in the Pop Menu.

In addition, we can use the Locations and Limits under Criteria to customize the search directory range and feedback results, or add directories that you don’t want to search to improve search efficiency and avoid wasting time.

If you have Criteria that you use frequently, you can right-click and save as Snippet. Afterwards, you can drag directly from the Sidebar to the Refine Search operation.

Details Pane

In HS 4, the Details Pane contains three sections of file information, image preview, and text preview. In Info Pane, the metadata information of the file is displayed when you put the metadata. When the check box on the right is picked, the search results will be used as Criteria to re-filter the target file. Of course, you can also choose more. However, there seems to be a serious bug in the image preview, that is, when you switch between pictures at normal speed, the picture preview can not be replaced in real time.

URL scheme

HS is a way to embed third-party software in the form of URL scheme. The more classic third-party tools are Launchbar and Alfred. We can directly search for keywords from the quick search box of such software, but first you need to know the URL scheme. Configuration, first, the URL scheme format of HS is:


In this URL, where “q” represents the search character, the value after the TA can be directly entered as: “houdah software”, “name:*.txt”, “tag:orange”, but if applied to a third-party quick start software On, leave it blank; then “l”, which represents the path to the search directory. Finally, “t” represents the storage path for the application Refine Search Template.

For example, if we want to call HoudahSpot search in the Launchbar, we can set it like this:

  • Add a new search template by clicking the “+” button in the lower left corner of the Launchbar – Index – Web – Search Templates (UTF-8) channel.
  • The name is arbitrary, but I suggest that in order to provide efficiency, not too long, the word head letter combination can be, like HoudahSpot, we can write hs, and TA’s Template URL is: “houdahspot4://search?q=” (without Left and right quotation marks)
    That’s it, then type “hs+keyword” in the search box of the Launchbar to start looking for files.

Advanced play method

The quick search box above the Refine Search is not the ribbing feature in your eyes. For Power User, this is the ultimate weapon for efficiency. Let’s take a quick look at how to use it.

The value function of the quick search box is actually a semantic search. The format is: attributeName:value. This attributeName is similar to the Criteria of Refine Search. However, the assignment method of TA is more flexible, and the names of all attributes are very short, which is convenient for users to remember. As complicated as the Spotlight attribute.

such as:

I search for all files with Houdah file name, you can type “name:Houdah” directly in the search box, where name is attributeName, value is Houdah, if I don’t have name attributeName, enter “Houdah” directly, which is normal mode. Search, the system will directly feedback all files with the name prefix Houdah, and then I enter a phrase, such as: “Houdah Software”, it will return all files with Houdah and Software.

Let me introduce a few common search syntaxes in turn:

Search for files with the specified file type suffix:

“filename:*.txt”: Search for all files with a .txt extension

Search for files using Boolean operators:

“name: Houdah OR filename Houdah”: Search for files whose display names are Houdah and whose file name is Houdah “name:Houdah NOT filename:Houdah”: search display name contains Houdah, and file name does not contain Houdah’s file “filename: *.txt AND (Houdah NOT text: Houdah)”: Search for a text attribute with a .txt extension containing Houdah, but the text does not contain Houdah’s files.

Search by value range:

Usually this requirement uses numeric attributes and is then used with comparison operators, for example:

“pixelwidth:1000”: Search for all images with a width of 1000px “pixelcount:>=7000000”: Search for all images with a resolution above 7000000 px “duration:60-240”: Search for all audios with a duration of 60 to 240 seconds. Video file

Search for files by time range:

Such attributes are used more frequently, and common time attributes are:

The commonly used value syntax is:

“last week”
“last month”
“last year”
“next week”
“next month”
“next year”
“this week”
“this month”
“this year”
Commonly used attributeName:

Pan file type search:

Since there are too many different file types on the Mac, Universal Type Identifiers have their own names, so HS provides an attribute assignment method called “kind values” to find files to match the other attributes, narrowing the search range, and its Attribute Name is Kind. ,such as:

Kind:application: Search all apps
Kind:folder: search directory, load volume
Kind:spreadsheet: Search all common documents
Kind:wordprocessing: Search all common Word documents
Commonly used kind values:


Although you will say that Spotlight is enough for daily use, HoudahSpot can do a lot of work that SP can’t do, such as opening multiple search tasks (Tabs) at the same time, excluding a directory, saving search conditions and calling them at any time, more precise. The search function is not available for SP at the moment, and the new “Snippets” in 4.0 improves our usage efficiency. The current 4.0 version is priced at 29$, and the old user upgrade cost is 17$. If you have a novel HoudahSpot experience sharing, please feel free to contact us.

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