Advanced Preferences

With Hook’s Advanced preferences tab (available to Hook Pro users), you can specify which folders Hook should ignore when it tries to resolve hook://file/ links. This is analogous to Spotlight’s privacy pane in System preferences. However, this is not a privacy function but a convenience, as explained below.

Hook-3.8-Prefs-advanced.png

This pane has a single editable list of folders labeled “Prevent Hook from searching these locations:” with this explanation below: “Finder folders listed on the right will be ignored when Hook tries to resolve file links (hook://file/)”. This applies to the “first” time Hook resolves such a link (as explained below).

In the image above, you’ll see that we have configured Hook to ignore files and folders in the /Users/lucb/restore-Exclude FROM SPOTLIGHT folder.

When to edit the “ignore” list

First, some background

When you copy a link to a file, Hook creates a hook://file/ bookmark that points to the file; and Hook begins to track this file. For this purpose, it stores the original file’s location (“pathname”) and other meta-data in its database. As you move the file around, or rename it, Hook updates its information about the file. That enables links to this file (“bookmarks” and “hooks”) to keep working when you:

  • use Hook on different Macs (assuming you enable Hook’s syncing across Macs);
  • remount volumes (disk images, removable storage);
  • checkout repositories in version control systems (like Git and Subversion); and
  • sync cloud shared folders locally on your Finder (e.g., from Dropbox and Sync).

When you paste a literal hook://file/ link for sending to others (or to yourself on different Macs), you may notice that Hook codes information about the file in the link’s URL. Only the current filename (not the path) is explicitly legible (unencrypted). For instance, this is a link to an Application Support folder. Its URL is hook://file/EqVgyQJJb?p=bHVjYi9MaWJyYXJ5&n=Application%20Support. If you try opening that link with Hook on a typical Mac, it’s likely to open in your ~/Library/Application\ Support folder.

When you click on such (hook://file/) links received from others, Hook has no prior information about the target. It must rely only on the URL. Internally, Hook then triggers a search for the file. It looks for files with the same name and similar paths.

As alluded to in the list above, Hook also needs to resolve hook://file/ links when you import bookmarks or sync bookmarks between Macs. In other words, when your local instance of Hook effectively encounters a given link for the first time (or “as if for the first time”).

However, you might have a backup folder on your Mac with copies of files you’ve linked to. When Hook initially resolves a link, you typically don’t want those links to point to duplicates of your files (such as backups). You’ll want them to point to the originals. How is Hook supposed to know what folders contain lots of files that are irrelevant to your linking needs?

Solution

The solution is simple! Before you import or resolve links, configure the list of folders specified in the Advanced preference pane, next to Prevent Hook from searching these locations:.

“What if I forgot to configure the list of folders to ignore?”

Suppose you forget to configure this setting before resolving links for the first time, and some of your links now point to resources in the “wrong” folder. It is easy to recover.

  1. Configure the list of folders to ignore.
  2. Export your bookmarks, following these instructions.
  3. Re-import your bookmarks, following the instructions on the same page.

What this “ignore” list does not do

The “ignore” list will not prevent Hook from honoring links that you’ve already created that point to a folder in the “ignored” list. Also, you can override this setting by deliberately selecting a file in that folder and linking to it (e.g., with Copy Link, Copy Markdown Link, Hook to Copied Link, or using the menu bar icon’s linking widgets).

Also, it does not fully prevent the possibility of some shared hook://file/ URLs pointing to the “wrong” file. It could happen that two files in legitimate folders are very similar and Hook has no way of knowing which this link points to. So when you click on a shared link, you should keep that in mind. (Hook’s General Preferences contains an option to reveal files in Finder.) You can delete bookmarks, hooks and literal links.

CogSci Apps invention: heuristic file links

macOS has a very specific technical (UNIX-like) concept of file (an inode) which is extremely useful and powerful — Hook leverages it. However, this concept is not enough. Hook’s heuristics provide a more abstract, virtual concept of file that is more similar to the more fluid & general concept of file that users have. This is what you would expect from CogSci Apps, a company founded on cognitive science, including AI in the most venerable sense of the term (not merely statistical, connectionist AI).

See Claus Atzenbeck — Interview with Luc Beaudoin | ACM SIGWEB Newsletter – Summer 2022 – Article No.: 3, pp 1-11

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