I’m months late in writing about HoudahSpot 4.1, which is odd because it adds the one feature I’d always wanted: the ability to save HoudahSpot searches as Finder Smart Folders. I’ll get to that in one second. Full disclosure, Houdah has sponsored this blog, but this review is 100% unpaid and prompted by love.

For people who haven’t used HoudahSpot before, it’s a spectacularly powerful way to locate, analyze, and work with all of the files on your Mac. It’s everything Spotlight can do, amplified by at least double.

I wrote about the 4.0 release when it came out, but here’s a short list of features I love:

  • Visual criteria builder similar to Finder search, but with more flexibility (hundreds of options)
  • Snippets: Individual search criteria (or groups of criteria) that you can save and then drag into new searches
  • Search multiple locations at once, and exclude folders within selected locations
  • Quickly create searches using familiar Spotlight syntax (e.g. “kind:PDF date:today”) and then extend them
  • Automation via AppleScript and integration with LaunchBar, Alfred, Butler, and more

I backhandedly requested the ability to save searches as Smart Folders a while back, and developer Pierre Bernard was gracious enough to include the feature in v4.1. Because HoudahSpot provides search capabilities beyond what Spotlight does by default, not all of the criteria can be exported as Smart Folders, but a majority of my common searches work wonderfully. It provides both an easy way to create Smart Folders, and easy access to the results right from within Finder.

Most of the other updates in 4.1 are refinements to some of the existing features. For me, the handiest of these is the ability to disable individual search criteria. In combination with HoudahSpot’s template features, it allows you to have a set of “potential” criteria in a template that you can enable as needed, rather than having to create multiple templates for efficient searching.

The built-in text preview can now jump through highlighted matches within the text, which makes HoudahSpot not only great for finding files, but also for drilling all the way down to the info you need within a file. 4.1 also brings additional options when searching by file extension or file type (“kind” Spotlight searches).

HoudahSpot has a feature that allows search results to be copied as Tab Delimited text, and that option now includes column headers for easy incorporation into spreadsheet documents or other parsing.

If you’re a HoudahSpot user, you’re probably already enjoying these refinements (as it’s a free upgrade for v4 owners). If you haven’t tried it, there’s a free trial available and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s accumulated enough data on their Mac to spend time in Spotlight tracking it down (which I think is anyone who’s had a Mac for more than 6 months, but I don’t know how “normal” people work…).

HoudahSpot 4.1 is $29 US for a single license. Find more info and grab the free trial at Houdah.com.