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HoudahSpot - Enhance Spotlight's search powers Pick of the Week
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[Score: 9 out of 10]
As much as I love the improvements in Spotlight in 10.5, there's one glaring omission from 10.4 that has yet to be fixed (perhaps in 10.5.3?): when you use Spotlight in the Finder, you can only see three columns of data in the results. Those three columns are Name, Kind, and Last Opened, which seems OK at first glance. Until, that is, you want to find all the large files on your hard drive. Sure, it's easy to write the query...but when you get the results, you can't sort by size, nor for that matter, can you even see the size of the found files. In 10.4, you could use the View » Show View Options menu to add in any of the standard Finder columns, and add in Size. One click later, you'd be looking at a size-sorted view of your results, making it easy to identify the space hogs. No such luck in 10.5.

Enter HoudahSpot. Among its many other skills, HoudahSpot will let you customize your search results by adding not just Finder columns, but any column that Spotlight can search on.

For example, here's a search I ran to find images that are over 20MB in size. Note that in the results, I can not only see and sort on image size, but I've also added a number of Spotlight's photography-related keys (click for a full-size version):
I wrote about HoudahSpot in detail back in February for Macworld's Mac Gems columns; since then, the program's gotten even better. A new Blitz Search feature puts a Spotlight-like icon in the menu bar, and provides keyboard shortcuts (customizable) to activate that menu or the main HoudahSpot window. This makes using HoudahSpot as convenient as Spotlight. There are tons of additional features, including the ability to create templates, using Quick Look on search results, and a full contextual menu for handling files in the results list (see above screenshot).

The only major annoyance I've found with HoudahSpot is that it's set to start searching immediately, just like Spotlight -- as soon as you start building your query, it starts searching. Once it starts searching, it becomes hard to continue building the query, as your machine is busy searching. Luckily, this live search can be disabled via HoudahSpot's preferences (another feature I wish Spotlight had).

If you miss the ability to customize your search results, or just want to do more with Spotlight, HoudahSpot is well worth the cost. (Use the free demo to decide if its feature set is worth it for your needs.)
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HoudahSpot - Enhance Spotlight's search powers
Authored by: teacy123 on Apr 07, '08 02:15:51PM
This sounds like a lot of flexibility. If the need is solely to find the biggest disk space hog, then Disk Inventory X from might actually fit the bill, since it has a very nice visual representation of your hard drive and how the space on it breaks down into items.

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HoudahSpot - Enhance Spotlight's search powers
Authored by: johnsawyercjs on Apr 07, '08 02:57:36PM

I've been wondering how to add the columns for Size, Date Modified etc. back to Find/Spotlight's results under OS 10.5. I also keep wondering why Apple's continuous changes to Find/Spotlight, don't include any sensible consistency, instead boiling down to adding some features, while ripping out what most people look for in a Find utility, not least of which is having the default be Find By Name, not Find By Kind. Creating smart search folders is one partial way around some of these problems, but they don't always do the whole job, don't always work as expected (if at all), and most people will never venture into creating them, making do instead with what Apple foists on them, no matter how optimistic Apple may be about users' skills.

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HoudahSpot - Enhance Spotlight's search powers
Authored by: djimi on Jun 22, '08 03:54:00PM

Nice points. I've been using Macintosh OS since version 6. Version 10.5 Quick Look is the saving grace of this OS. I give not being able to sort by size an "F-" for this release. I spoke with the OS X (before it was released) devlopers from Apple via my work and got to meet with them able how Sherlock nee "Find File" had evolved from OS 7.5~OS 9. I spoke with them for about 30 minutes on the Find/Sherlock functionality. I can't believe after doing so many good things, that they went back to the stone age, and decided that to omit such a handy, integral, *basic* feature in searching. Please don't reply with an excuse for Apple. There isn't any excuse for this failure. Paying for software to do something that the OS should inherently do? Directory X is great, but again, this is what the Finder (hello -- what's the name of the OS GUI SHELL??) supposed to do.

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HoudahSpot - Enhance Spotlight's search powers
Authored by: robogobo on Apr 07, '08 03:11:38PM

cool idea. too expensive. another developer gets greedy and loses customers. when will they learn?

100 buyers x 25 bucks = 2500 bucks
1000 buyers x 5 bucks = 5000 bucks

or anywhere in between. this is far from essential.

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HoudahSpot - Enhance Spotlight's search powers
Authored by: robg on Apr 07, '08 08:21:26PM

As pricing is always a tough decision, here's the other side of that coin.

1,000 users = 1,000 possible tech support request sources
100 users = 100 possible tech support request sources

As time is the limiting factor, one goal of pricing may be to deliver only the number of customers one can support -- especially for a one-person shop where the software they create isn't their sole means of support. So perhaps this developer (and I am *not* trying to speak for him; just using it as an example) only wants 100 customers.

Whether or not it's too expensive also depends on just how essential you find its features. I used to think $25 was too much for an FTP app. Then I found one I liked that had all the features I wanted, and I found it well worth the price.


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HoudahSpot - Enhance Spotlight's search powers
Authored by: gloubibou on Apr 08, '08 01:45:18PM

Funny how opinions can diverge. When I showed HoudahSpot and HoudahGeo at Macworld Expo the comment I heard most frequently was that I priced them to low. I quote: "Don't you have a family to feed?"

The real question is how much the services provided by HoudahSpot are worth to you. Actually think 15 Euro is not much to ask.

To each his own. Some gladly spend several hundred Euros on Microsoft Office or thousands on Adobe's Creative Suite. Both of which don't see any feature enhancements until the next paid upgrade. Others have a hard time spending a mere 15 Euro on shareware which is actively supported and updated.

Pierre Bernard
Houdah Software s.à r.l.

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HoudahSpot - Enhance Spotlight's search powers
Authored by: FOOOD on Apr 10, '08 01:36:53PM

I tried the demo, found it useful & nearly bought it.
But I couldn't over having to look at the ugly yellow UI all the time.

If there was an option to switch to standard UI colours or something I'd probably go ahead & buy it. The price certainly doesn't put me off.

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HoudahSpot - Enhance Spotlight's search powers
Authored by: gloubibou on Apr 12, '08 02:47:37PM
You will be glad to learn that starting with HoudahSpot 2.1.4, you have an option to configure the accent color.

HoudahSpot 2.1.4 adds a hidden preference allowing for the accent color to be customized. Enter one of the following at the command line in and relaunch HoudahSpot.

defaults write com.houdah.HoudahSpot accentColor yellow
defaults write com.houdah.HoudahSpot accentColor red
defaults write com.houdah.HoudahSpot accentColor green
defaults write com.houdah.HoudahSpot accentColor blue
defaults write com.houdah.HoudahSpot accentColor grey

Pierre Bernard
Houdah Software s.à r.l.

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