What is the Best Desktop Search Engine on Mac OS X?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Bigmacduck, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    #1
    Can someone please point me to a great desktop search product on the Mac?
    It does not matter how much it costs, as long as it matches the capabilities of the X1 Professional Client that is available on Windows.
    http://www.x1.com/products/professional-client

    The lack of a great desktop search engine for files and outlook email on the Mac is the only reason why I still use Windows 7 under Parallels. I have all the file system on the OS X side, but I still use the X1 Desktop search to index the content of the files and the Outlook PST files. I already have Outlook and Office 2011 on the Mac, but without a great desktop search, that is pretty useless.

    I would love to get rid of Windows because of battery life, but without a great desktop search engine on OSX I still need to stick to Windows just for the X1 search. :confused:
     
  2. macrumors 6502

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  3. Bigmacduck, Apr 11, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011

    thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    #3
    Spotlight is no comparison at all to the the features of X1 Professional Client under Windows. It is simply not powerful enough. X1 allows an interactive drill down of results. Say I know there was an email from Jack to me in 2009 that had a PowerPoint slide with the words "networking, proof of concept, cluster, redundancy" in the presentation test. Every piece of data entered reduces the number of possible documents that have such a PPT attachment. X1 also allows to use boolean search.

    With X1 it takes seconds to locate this email. Spotlight does not allow such interactive data mining. I find it a bit crazy having to use a desktop search under Windows in a virtual machine to efficiently locate documents on the Mac.

    Hope somebody can point me to a great solution on the Mac.
     
  4. dyn
    macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Location:
    .nl
    #4
    Then you have absolutely no idea what spotlight is and how to use it. The things you're describing are exactly the things that spotlight does. You may want to try to search from a Finder window (if you've searched from the spotlight window choose "show all"). You can create specific searches by entering rules. If you use a search more than once you can save it and it will show up on the left side of the Finder window under "Search for".

    As of Office 2011 where Entourage has been replaced with Outlook there is also an integration with spotlight so you can now find mail from Outlook by using spotlight.

    Check out the links below for more information on spotlight and how to use it properly (the latter seems to be the problem in your case):
    - Spotlight tips (The X Lab; be sure to check out their related links)
    - Create good queries in spotlight (Macworld)
    - Spotlight Query Expression Syntax (Apple)
    - What is spotlight? (Apple).
     
  5. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    #5
    Exactly!! You may want to familiarize yourself with Spotlight first. You can find more information in Mac Help (hint: search for "Spotlight").

    So to perform the search which you explained, you can type in spotlight:

    Code:
    kind:presentations author:Jack created:<=12/31/2009 networking "proof of concept" cluster redundancy. 
    
    I too think it's crazy when you already have a great built-in desktop search app (and cost you slower performance and lower battery life due to running a virtual machine)
     
  6. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2007
    Location:
    Adirondacks NY
    #6
    There is more granularity than you may think. When you have search results in a finder window look for the plus on the upper right side:

    [​IMG]

    Then look for options on the upper left side:

    [​IMG]

    Alternatively, you can buy Houdahspot which is essentially a nice graphic front end to Spotlight. I'm not sure I'd shell out the full $30, but I got it heavily discounted in a promotion and I like it.
     
  7. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    #7
    HoudahSpot. I too relied heavily upon X1 on WinWoes. As my work is research intensive, I was lost on the iMac when I first made the switch. Once I truly understood HoudahSpot, I dang near lost my mind. Download a (fully featured) trial, and be sure to play around with the "group" buttons. That adds profound precision to your search. Also be aware that you can just drag & drop folder trees into the where-to-search box. If it's an area you'll use again, save it as a template.

    Bottom-line: houdahSpot puts even the mighty X1 to shame! I'm not affiliated with the dev. In fact, I tried HS once when I grabbed it in a holiday bundle-- and promptly uninstalled. Later, I read a detailed review, causing me to try again after reading help-style articles and videocasts. I've used it just about every workday since...

    PS. Don't confuse this with it's sibling Tembo, which is so restrictive that it's toy-like.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    #8
    Thanks TreoRenegade!
    That's the kind of Spotlight frontend that I was looking for.
    I will give it a try. http://www.houdah.com/houdahSpot/

    I would also like to thank all the others, who pointed me to spotlight and supporting web pages. I know that spotlight search engine is very powerful, but the user interface is crap. I do not want do use a command line for searching content, that's what I did at the dawn of UNIX 30 years ago.

    I am looking for something much more comfortable and powerful that preferably builds on Spotlight. Looks like HoudahSpot could be that tool.
     
  9. Bigmacduck, Apr 12, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2011

    thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    #9
    what about DevonThink?

    I gave HoudahSpot a first try. The user interface and the possibilities are great.

    Unfortunately HoudahSpot does not search the Outlook 2011 message store. It works perfectly well with Apple mail. Microsoft needs to provide a QuickLook plug-in for Outlook emails, which seems not to be available for the moment. See: http://forums.houdah.com/post?id=4959263

    I came across another powerful application, which is also available from the Mac App Store for a reasonable price: DEVONthink
    http://www.devontechnologies.com/products/devonthink/

    Does somebody this software, or is even using it?

    I am also going to give DEVONthink a try. Will take some time as this seems to be a very powerful beast. 200 pages of user manual.
     
  10. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2007
    Location:
    Adirondacks NY
    #10
    I love DEVONthink. It's great software that I use for all my research projects. It has powerful search capabilities. It does a great job searching inside a wide variety of file formats. I use DT Pro Office because it has integrated OCR making it a snap to bring hard copy into the database.

    There are so many slick ways to bring data into DEVONthink: drag & drop, print menu, services menu, & browser extension. Highly recommended.
     
  11. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2007
    #11
    +1 for DevonThink Pro Office, what a great data base and search program. Between DevonThink Pro Office and spotlight it is all covered. Spotlight in itself is good to go, but the data base that I have built with DevonThink Pro Office is outstanding. Not quite paperless but I am getting there....
     
  12. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    #12
    HoudahSpot & Tembo

    As the developer of HoudahSpot and Tembo, I would like to chime in with a few precisions.

    HoudahSpot unleashes the full power of the Spotlight engine: boolean searches, searching multiple locations, displaying a lot of metadata, …
    Then it adds a few features of its own: excluding locations from search, find by example, text preview,…
    And then it also is a file tagging solution based upon the OpenMeta technology.

    By comparison, Tembo appears quite tame. The reason is that Tembo has a very different purpose. It makes finding common files easy. Search results are grouped by category. You may drill down into a category to find context sensitive filters. E.g. messages may be filtered by recipient, sender or subject.

    I find myself using Tembo for most common searches. Once I need to dig deeper, find a well hidden file, I head for HoudahSpot.

    Long story short: the original poster will be best served by HoudahSpot.

    BTW, both HoudahSpot and Tembo have demo versions available.
    For HoudahSpot there are screencasts available showing how to make the best use of it.

    Best,
    Pierre Bernard
    Houdah Software s.à r.l.
     
  13. dyn
    macrumors 68000

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    .nl
    #13
    DevonTHINK is a document management system. You store documents in it which you can search, etc. Evernote does something similar. These kind of systems are completely different from X1/Spotlight though! Might be a better option if you're only into documents.
     
  14. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    #14
    I already purchased a family license of HoudahSpot! And I also recommended it to my friends.

    It's great and I am sure that I will get used to it. For the moment I still find the usability of X1 better even though both products have similar search capabilities
     
  15. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Location:
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    #15
    +1 Spotlight.

    Finder, command+F

    efficient filing system and naming protocols

    the search feature in Mail is also excellent.

    never had a problem finding anything.

    why buy another utility when all the above are gratis … … :rolleyes:
     
  16. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2011
    #16
    Need for Outlook 2011 detailed email search

    I'm considering a change from my current Lenovo laptop to a MacBook Pro for work and find this thread the most important consideration if I decide to switch. I understand you can run Win7 and Outlook in a virtual partition on the MacBook, but if I need to run two OS', then it doesn't justify making the switch, IMO. What has made me pause from getting another Lenovo already is the ability to run Outlook 2011 in the Mac's native OS coupled with Exchange 2007 that will allow other support features. However, I want to make sure I'll be able to search all my outlook email that is archived and stored. X1 Professional Client search is a tremendous tool and timesaver as it can find e-mail messages and attachments, system files and documents, appointments and calendar entries, contacts, and even pictures, music, and Web sites. I know spotlight can find most of what X1 can (with the exception of Outlook email), but does anyone know if HoudaSpot, DevonTHINK or any other search engine does a detailed search of Outlook 2011 email and it's folders, including archived email, calendar and contacts?
     
  17. macrumors member

    Isair

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    San Francisco, California
  18. macrumors 6502a

    solaris

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    Oslo, Norway
  19. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    #19
    Comparison chart

    I am admittedly biased. But I think this is a clear case of you-get-what-you-pay-for. I agree that Spotlight is an excellent technology. But I find the interfaces offered by Apple to be lacking. That's why I wrote both HoudahSpot and Tembo.

    You may want to check the feature comparison chart at the bottom of http://houdah.com/houdahSpot/ for a glimpse of what you are missing out on.

    Or better yet, try the demo versions of HoudahSpot and Tembo.
     
  20. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #20
    Hi. I am reviving this thread because I am having a problem with both Houdah and Spotlight.

    I am searching for a term that I am certain exists in a PDF. I have copied and pasted the term directly from the PDF to make absolutely sure there is no discrepancy. I have been able to find it in other files, BUT not in this file where I copied and pasted it from.

    Is there any way that I can improve the indexing on these two programs? Or, is there another search program that will do a better job?
     
  21. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    #21
    Hi!

    HoudahSpot is based upon the Spotlight engine. Spotlight in turn relies on importer plug-ins to provide the metadata to index. Both Spotlight and HoudahSpot can only match against the data provided by the importer.

    Now there are many possible reasons why your search does not find the document:

    - your search may be targeting a folder other than the one where the file is located
    - the document may be in a location excluded from Spotlight indexing
    - the importer may not have produced text to index. E.g. because the file is password-protected

    Please try using HoudahSpot to locate the file by some other criterion. E.g. file name. Then look at the file using HoudahSpot's Text Preview feature. This shows the text as passed on from the Spotlight importer.

    Best,
    Pierre Bernard
    Houdah Software s.à r.l.
     
  22. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #22
    Dear Pierre,

    Thanks for the help. I think I have now figured out what the problem is, and if you have any advice on how to solve it, I would greatly appreciate it. Basically, it appears to be a language problem. The importer is garbling my PDF files.

    I am searching for a term in a text using Chinese characters. For example, the term (Japanese pronunciation) "chōmoku" 鳥目. When I search in the PDF itself (using Adobe), I find it without any problem. But, using Finder or Houdah, I don't. When I opened the text preview, as you suggested, I found that most of the characters within it were separated by a space. So, the search had to be modified to look for "chō" and "moku."

    The "spacing" of text seems to occur at random. Sometimes there are extra spaces, and other times there are not. Do you know why the importer is doing this? Do you know how I can prevent it?
     
  23. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    #23
    Hi!

    You may run the following command in Terminal.app to force indexing of a file:

    Code:
    mdimport -d4 "/Path/to/your/file.pdf"
    
    This will produce lots of debug output from Spotlight and from the plug-in. Somewhere in there should be the following line:

    Code:
    Import: Importing type 'com.adobe.pdf' using 'file://localhost/System/Library/Spotlight/PDF.mdimporter/' 
    This tells you which importer was used. In my case it is Apple's PDF importer. If that produces incorrect results, you should report the problem to http://bugreport.apple.com

    If another importer is used, you might want to remove that and try again.

    Best,
    Pierre Bernard
    Houdah Software s.à r.l.
     
  24. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #24
    Thanks! I will give it a try and see what happens.
     
  25. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    #25
    What search programs show hits inside file?

    Hi, I'm relatively new but Mac doesn't seem as functional as PC. Do any of the Mac desktop search programs, for example, highlight the hits inside files? X1 can - or at lease - used to be able to! Can any locate hits in notes (e.g. in Skim) or comments (e.g. in Word for Mac 2008) or highlighting?. What about proximity searches? Do any Mac programs find the search terms within a paragraph? Cheers.
     

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