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HoudahSpot is a powerful file search utility build atop Apple's Spotlight engine.

Spotlight unleashed

  • Create detailed queries to pinpoint the exact file you want to get to
  • Narrow down searches. Step by step, zero in on files
  • Save active queries for direct access to your favorite files
  • Set up templates for frequently performed searches

Your files at your fingertips

  • Keep frequently used files within reach
  • Retrieve the files you didn't know you still had
  • Preview text matches
  • Inspect files
  • Copy results as tab-delimted more...

What's New

Version 3.8.7:
  • Fixed various bugs. Thank you for submitting crash reports


  • OS X 10.6.6 or later
  • Spotlight enabled

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HoudahSpot User Discussion

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Gary30 Member IconReview+193

This is a far superior front end for Spotlight. It gives easy access to Spotlight features which Spotlight itself makes difficult to use. However," live by the sword, die by the sword." If a file is not listed in Spotlight then it will not be found by HoudaSpot. You can force Spotlight to index a particular folder and its subfolders using the Terminal. Here is the command to force it so index a user's Mail folder:

mdimport /Users/[yourusername]/Library/Mail

This also works with root level folders. However, strangely, Spotlight will sometimes index a folder and fail to find a file that you know is there and which has no unusual permissions or other characteristics.

Two search utilities that are independent of Spotlight are EasyFind which will search for file contents and Find Any File which will not do so (but which will find package contents like EasyFind) and has several criteria for searching files.

Finally, HoudaSpot is often available with the major Mac bundle offers. That is good because $24 is a lot to spend on such a utility--for me anyway.

Reply0 replies
Version 3.8.7
Mtcobra Member IconComment+79

When I check the internal “Check for Updates” function on my Houdahspot, it reports that I am up-to-date with the latest version, 3.8.4.

Either I'm up to date, or I'm not. I’ll wait until the app tells me to update, because my copy is registered, and I don't want to risk over-writing that with a direct download.

Am I missing something?

Reply1 reply
Version 3.8.5

Houdahspot's internal update function is now working. Disregard previous message.

Applestuff1729 Member IconReview+0

This is a fantastic app for debugging/modifying large code bases. It will search inside files while restricting the search to certain file names or extensions or many other options. It can rapidly reduce 50,000 search results down to the 10 most relevant in a large code base.

Reply0 replies
Version 3.8.5
Nova-Bossa-Nova Member IconReview+35

I use it a lot and it works very well!

Reply0 replies
Version 3.8.4
Drdul Member IconReview+448

This is a far better way to use Spotlight than OS X's built-in search functionality, especially if you take the time to create custom search templates within HoudahSpot. I particularly like HS's support for both Mavericks and OpenMeta tags, and the ability to filter results to see files where the tags don't match. I was having problems with unwanted tags periodically reappearing in my system, and using HS I traced it down to a bunch of OpenMeta tags created long ago by some forgotten application.

I'm taking off half a star because HS does not provide a way to disable the tagging tray when HS isn't running. It's either on all the time, or not on at all. I find the tagging tray useful, but only when I'm using HS. The rest of the time, I don't want it hanging around getting in the way (it pops up at unwanted times, even if I haven't pressed one of the modifier keys that I have set to control it).

Reply0 replies
Version 3.8.4
Mextex Member IconComment+32

Version 3.8.3 update on Mavericksmakes HoudahSpot now displaying Finder label colors as dots. AAAH. Come on. This is a bug, not a feature. Please add this to the preferences. I would like to keep the old way of displaying the label colors.

Reply0 replies
Version 3.8.3
xgman Member IconReview+14

Bad marks due to showing spots like in finder. Preferred the labels.

Reply0 replies
Version 3.8.3
Dalexand Member IconReview+2

I have many 10s of thousands of DNA sequences on my computer. So, when I come across a partial sequence (generally given to me by a student) I need to be able to find partial strings in microsoft word documents. HoudahSpot can do this. It has become an essential tool for my research. Partial string search capabilities of version 3.8.1 seem to be much improved compared to previous versions. (Previously I had to run a HoudahSpot search while rebuilding the Spotlight index.) I would also like to add my thanks to the developer for keeping HoudahSpot available for 10.6.8. (I give HoudahSpot a value of 5 stars, but the the star thing won't go past 4.5)

Reply0 replies
Version 3.8.1
Midavis Member IconReview+8

HoudahSpot continues to be a fantastic alternative to Spotlight, and this new updated look is very nice. My thanks to the developer for keeping this available for 10.6.8

Reply1 reply
Version 3.8

Not to nitpick, but HoudahSpot isn't an alternative to Spotlight, it IS Spotlight. All that's different is the GUI used to interact with Spotlight.

Agreed that it is superior to the OS X Finder's Spotlight interface.

Sherman Wilcox Member IconReview+171
Sherman Wilcox

Nice Mavericks update to a very useful application.

Reply0 replies
Version 3.8
user icon+2
Version 3.8.7
user icon+0
Version 3.8.4
user icon+0
Version 3.8.2
user icon+8
Version 3.8.2
user icon+19
Version 3.8.2
user icon+4
Version 3.8
user icon+0
Version 3.7.6
user icon+12
Version 3.7.3
user icon+0
Version 3.5.7
user icon+14
Version 3.5.7
> 4 62


Current Version (3.x)


Downloads 79,602
Version Downloads 1,761
License Demo
Date 30 Mar 2014
Platform OS X / Intel 32
Price $24.00
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