HoudahSpot: Versatile, Convenient, Linkable File Search

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HoudahSpot is a powerful macOS app for finding files and emails. It provides a convenient and versatile user interface. Under the hood it leverages the Spotlight search index.

We recently blogged about the benefits of HoudahSpot.

Invoke Hook on a HoudahSpot search result

The most common way to use Hook and HoudahSpot together is as follows.

When you select a HoudahSpot search result, you can invoke Hook with the usual keyboard shortcut (⇧⌘SPACE). From there you can use any of Hook’s commands ! It’s as if you were invoking Hook in the Finder (or in a file you’ve opened, for that matter).

This means you can use the following Hook commands on the selected search result:



  • Rename in Hook: ⌃⇧R


  • Advanced >
    • Add Bookmark Without Copying ⌘D
    • Make Hook File (Pro only) : ⇧⌘H,
    • Revert Name in Hook
    • Share

The Hook window will show you all items that you previously hooked to the selection — whether you hooked the item within HoudahSpot, Finder or any other app.

Copy Link and Copy Markdown Link in HoudahSpot

Hook’s Copy Link and Copy Markdown Link commands in HoudahSpot return links with the hook://file/ protocol.

That is what you would expect for regular files. But HoudahSpot also can search your emails. When you select an email in HoudahSpot and invoke Hook’s Copy Link, Hook will create a link with the hook://file/ scheme. Those will work, but keep in mind they are not email links per se.

For Hook to copy a proper email URL ( hook://email/ or message://), you will need to open the email. ⌘O in Hook or HoudahSpot will do that for you.

Getting a link to the entire HoudahSpot search

It can be quite useful to copy a link to an entire HoudahSpot search file. Then you can paste the link in any context in which you might want to access all the search results! For instance, if you regularly need to review a bunch of files, you can create a HoudahSpot search file that finds those files, and use Hook to access the search file (and hence to access the search results).

If you want to link to an entire HoudahSpot search file, you have several options, such as:

  1. De-select the search results (by clicking in empty space in the results pane) and invoke Hook. Make sure, however, that the search document has been saved at least once.
  2. select the search file in the Finder.
  3. use Hook to New > HoudahSpot (discussed next)

Hook to New > HoudahSpot

When you invoke Hook on a document you are writing, or any other resource for that matter, you see the items you have ‘hooked’ to it, if any. Sometimes, it’s useful to hook a search file to the document. That allows you in one move to indirectly connect a set of files that may be located in many disparate locations. It also lets you link an item to files that have not yet even be created ! I.e., files created after you have hooked to the search which meet the search criteria will appear in the search results later.

We’ve described a use case for this in our recent blog post about HoudahSpot.

Adding HoudahSpot search files to Hook’s templates directory

Hook has its own templates folder. When you invoke Hook to New..., Hook shows you the contents of its built-in templates and your custom templates. This is described in Templates help.

You can create new HoudahSpot search files and save them in Hook’s custom template folders. So the next time you invoke Hook to New..., it will show you all your HoudahSpot search templates (in addition to the built-in HoudahSpot search template).

Search for HoudahSpot files in Hook

HoudahSpot files end with .hssearch. So, to find HoudahSpot search files that you’ve previously bookmarked with Hook, simply

  1. invoke Hook (⇧⌘SPACE),
  2. enter search mode (with ⌘F or a click), and
  3. type: hssearch and hit the return key

Your HoudahSpot bookmarks will show up in the search results. (In step 3 typing hss* would get you in the ballpark too.)

Simple and advanced

While HoudahSpot is quite powerful, it’s also quite simple. You’ll quickly get the hang of using Hook in the context of HoudahSpot search results.

What requires a bit more conscious effort is to get into the habit of defining entire re-usable HoudahSpot search files. That’s a feature that you’ll use less often, but it’s quite handy for complex searches or searches that you will do repeatedly over a long period of time.

SetApp users

If you are using the SetApp version of HoudahSpot: FYI integration requires at least version 169 of Hook’s integration scripts.

Luc Beaudoin

Luc P. Beaudoin Co-founder, CogSci Apps Corp. My Cognitive Productivity books.