MacOS – Desktop Search – with more features than Spotlight


I am looking for a 'desktop search' solution for the mac. I like the look of HoudahSpot (built on top of Spotlight) but it doesn't quite do everything I would like.

My ideal search solution would do all of the following:

  1. Index all content of all MS Word documents on an individual computer (and preferably other formats as well, but MS Word is the key one), with ability to exclude certain files, documents and folders

  2. Ability to have several custom document indexes ie. can ideally set up some content indexes to only contain a smaller subset of documents related to a certain project – not everything on my computer. Or alternatively have 'saved searches'.

  3. When you do a search for a phrase or term, a list of MS Word documents that contains the search term/phrase is returned.

  4. An extract with the search term highlighted is displayed for each document returned in the search results list, including some indication if the phrase appears in a document more than once. Viewing the extract within which a term or phrase appears helps context it and give a better idea of if this is the occurrence you are looking for.

  5. When you click on an item in the search results window that document is opened in its native application ie. MS Word, AND

  6. All occurrences of the term or phrase are highlighted in the open document, with the first occurrence selected. Ideally have ability to quickly move forward and back between multiple occurrences of the phrase/term within one document.

  7. An added bonus would be the ability to do 'boolean', 'proximity' and other more advanced searches.

  8. Tag documents with metadata, and this metadata can be searched on

  9. Can index and search across multiple locations eg. servers as well as local computer

As mentioned, the closest I can find on the mac is the 'HoudahSpot' product, but I think it only does 1, 3, 5, 7 and 8?

The other solution that does everything I want is Adobe Acrobat's PDF search functionality, however its only for PDFs. If I could find similar functionality for MS Word documents I'd be really happy!

My other option is to move to a full document management solution, but I would probably still need to employ a developer to customize the search functionality to meet all my above needs? I'm not sure what document management system has good search? Also possibly there are limits to Spotlight's underlying design that stops me meeting all of the above requirements through products such as HoudahSpot? Maybe things like hit highlighting within MS Word could just use Word's inbuilt Find function, with the search term being passed to MS Word when the MS Word document is opened?

Any ideas or advice from anyone would be much appreciated.

Best Answer

I don't know of a third party solution, but I do know that Spotlight can do all of those things, except for #6, but that's more of a function of Word than Spotlight.