HoudahSpot hides quite a few handy features behind its seemingly stark interface. The below list should help you make the most of the tools at hand.
OK, this may be obvious to many. Nonetheless it cannot hurt to mention it.
You may set up complex queries by grouping criteria using boolean operators. In order to create a new groups you need to hold the option key while clicking a "+" button in the criteria editor. You may also select a criterion row to wrap in a group and then click the appropriate toolbar button.
Refer to the default templates for sample uses of compound criteria.
With HoudahSpot it is easy to find files based on a prototype file: a file that has something in common with the files you are looking for.
Say you want to find Microsoft Word files. Just drag a Word file to a "Content type" or "Content kind" criterion - anywhere but on the text field. It will update to match the file type. Files may be dragged in from any place where there are files: the Finder, HoudahSpot, …
You may use the "Find by Example" technique to narrow down a running query.
Say you searched for files with a name containing the word "iPhone". You will certainly find a whole lot of files. But all you care about are yesterday's files. Just grab one of yesterday's files from the result list and drag it to the left on a "Last opened" criteria. It will match the date of last use of the selected file.
You may also narrow down a search by exclusion. All you need to do is drag a file from the result list onto a criteria located within a "NONE of the following are true" group. By the principles of "find by example", this criterion will be set to match the dropped file.
Likewise you may limit the search to a certain scope. Just drag a folder or a file within the desired folder to the "Where..." or "Exclude..." sections. Alternatively, you may command-click a folder in the path shown at the bottom of the window. This limits the search scope to the selected folder.
You may drag files from the result list to any application or dock icon. This includes the Finder.
This can be a very powerful technique for housekeeping.
Use the "Music Gone Astray" template to find any music files that are not yet in your Music folder. Drag the files from the results list to iTunes or to your Music folder.
Should you want to organize your files by date: e.g. one folder for each month. Create a search to match the files from a given month. In the Finder locate or create the folder. Then drag all files from the results to that folder.
Just like the Finder, HoudahSpot may be used to copy-paste files.
Select the files to copy in the HoudahSpot results list. Select "Copy Files" from the "Edit" menu or hit cmd-shift-C. You may now paste the files to any place in the Finder.
You may copy results from the list view in HoudahSpot to your favorite text editor or spreadsheet application. The copied text includes all columns currently displayed in HoudahSpot.
Sometimes it can be useful to have a list of files to process in a spreadsheet application. HoudahSpot copies rows from the result list with the values from all the visible columns.
You may want to create a list of all your music titles. Create a search to match audio files from the "Music" folder. Enable the columns as desired: Title, Artist, Length, Size, …. Now select rows from the results list and hit cmd-C to copy. Paste to a text editor or spreadsheet.
Files and thus templates open in the state they were in when saved. I.e. if they were running when saved, they will start immediately when opened.
Thus we can distinguish two types of templates:
HoudahSpot saves all properties of a search to files or templates: criteria, scope, columns, sort order, ...
You wouldn't want to set this all up to your liking each time you create a new search. Luckily you don't have to. Once you have set up a search you should save it as template. In the HoudahSpot Preferences window, you can set up that template as your preferred template. It will from then on serve as starting point for all new documents.
Sometimes you just know the file you are looking for lives just next to a close match you just found.
In HoudahSpot you may click on the elements of the path displayed along the lower border of the window. This will take you to the desired folder in the Finder.
The Inspector window is copy-paste enabled.
Select a single attribute and hit cmd-C to copy its value to the pasteboard.
Select and copy a couple of attributes in order to create a tab-separated list on the pasteboard.
Queries may be initiated by calling upon the BlitzSearch feature using AppleScript.
tell application "HoudahSpot"
blitzSearch “mySearchString” filename yes content yes comments yes
Using AppleScript you may also access the full search results as well as the current selection.
tell application "HoudahSpot"
set mySelection to selection of first document
repeat with myFile in mySelection
set myName to name of myFile
display dialog myName
Please refer to the scripting dictionary for further details.
HoudahSpot integrates well with a number of third party tools:
Install the Finder toolbar item in order to conveniently search the current Finder window.
Alternatively, you may set the scope of a HoudahSpot search by dragging a folder to the "Where…" pane.
Hold down the command (Apple) key while the BlitzSearch window is up to reveal useful keyboard shortcuts