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Mac App: HoudahSpot

One of the features of Mac OS X that seems to get more flack than any other part of the OS is Apple’s robust search utility Spotlight. Ok, so it’s more than a utility, Spotlight is integrated right into the core of the OS, but either way the point is that there’s a consensus out there which suggests Spotlight is flawed and unworkable. Some even go so far as to roll up their sleeves and get themselves all covered in unix removing Spotlight from their systems.

Personally I find all the complaints to be undeserved, I use Spotlight daily. It’s refined the way I manage my files and navigate my drives. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘power user’ just a happy one. So when I saw that were holding another ‘blogzot’ (viral promotion shenanigans where, if enough people pimp the selected app on their blogs the cost of said app is reduced or even made free for those who participate) focusing on an application called HoudahSpot I thought, “Meh” – But then free is free, right!

So, what the hell is HoudahSpot? Well, here’s how the Houdah site defines it:

HoudahSpot leverages Apple’s Spotlight engine to bring you a powerful, fast and easy to use desktop search tool. HoudahSpot will put you in control of your files. They’re your files after all.

At first glance HoudahSpot appears to just be putting an interface over some little known Spotlight features, like the ability to use Boolean searches [ elroy|online = elroy OR online, elroy(-online) = elroy BUT NOT online, elroy|online(-crap) = elroy OR online BUT NOT crap ], and, well it is (although I can’t say for sure how the folks at houdah have implemented their version).

One really nice feature of HoudahSpot is that it allows you to create ‘templates’ which are basically custom configurations of file types, modification date, text content, etc. These templates, when refined to suit your workflow, have potential to become huge time savers, of course, only you will know how to tweak them to suit your needs.

For mine though the one place that HoudahSpot actually manages to outshine Spotlight (he he) is in its results display. HoudahSpot uses a tab system to show the actual file (like in a columned Finder window: fig1), an ‘inspector’ (more detailed information about the selected file: fig2) and a ‘preview’ window… which is only a ‘preview’ in so much as it displays the ENTIRE content of the file selected in the results window (fig3).

If I’m being completely honest, I have to say that it would take some effort for me to change my work habit over to HoudahSpot from my current use of Spotlight, however, if you’re one of the many people who are dissatisfied with Spotlight, then HoudahSpot should be added to your utilities folder right away.

NOTE: If you’re seeing this on June 16, 2006 (US) head over to MacZOT, you might be able to get a Free copy of HoudahSpot

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    This must be the coolest blog post I have ever seen.

    Nice Photoshop work. Some of these screenshots look better than what we have on the web site.

    Pierre Bernard
    Houdah Software s.à r.l.

  • /tips hat
    Thank you Pierre. And thanks for developing neat apps for the Mac OS.

    You know where to find me if you need any of that ‘nice photoshop work’ for your site! :P