HoudahSpot vs. Alfred search vs. Devonsphere vs. Foxtrot

Any thoughts on these? Is Foxtrot better in any substantial way than the others? Any I’m missing?


You ask such a big question one is really unable to do an off the cuff response; and yes there are other search apps out there - some freeware.

Foxtrot, which I quite like is very expensive and I suspect that will put off most ordinary users Of the others HoudahSpot should probably meet the needs of most users at reasonable cost. Alfred seems to me to be in a slightly different category to the others but even the others are quite distinctive and will appeal to different user groups.

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When looking for lost files I use macOS Spotlight, Alfred, and sometimes the free-of-cost “Easyfind” from DEVONtechnologies. While I have and occasional use DEVONsphere, it’s more of an exploration tool. Maybe that’s what you need. Try it.

I generally use techniques, other than brute force search, when interrogating my research files.

Yes, of course there are many other tools and as @Brisbane suggests, it’s a big topic which may not help you with yet more discussion and opinions. I suggest you just use one or more of your list above and go find those files you seek.


One key difference:

Houdah has lost its ability to index/search emails in Sonoma.

Foxtrot can still index/search emails.

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Find Any File has been my go-to for years.

I also use Alfred but I don’t think if it as in the same category as the others.


I mentioned Alfred because I understand that among its many other tools it has a search front-end to Spotlight as well.

I’m just trying to figure out which of these very many search solutions is best. It seems like Spotlight doesn’t always index things properly, so I feel like front-ends that depend on it may miss some results.

Find Any File doesn’t index files in advance, right? So it is probably slow to search the entire hard drive.

Which really leaves only FoxTrot, right? Maybe that’s the unrivalled best, although most expensive? Although I’m not sure it can search emails…

FoxTrot does index email - I don’t use the built in Mail much, but I can search for the few mails I have in there fine and it indexes all my Outlook emails. I have a separate FoxTrot index just for mail items that I can togglle on and off.

I used HoudahSpot for many years but found the full text search capabilities of FoxTrot to be far superior. Though as you say it’s not cheap.

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FoxTrot Pro is my preferred indexer with a wonderful search engine. Though if it’s just a quick “where did I put that file” search I use ⌘␣ to jump into Spotlight. FoxTrot Pro on Sonoma generates a “not compatible” warning on first launch, and is a little flaky. The QuickLook generator crashes from time to time. The new version of FoxTrot (v8) is available for sale or upgrade purchase but not released – the beta of v8 is available.


Usually Alfred, but if I want to use multiple search terms to locate documents then I use Spotlight search within a Finder window. Can’t see any reason to buy a search program.

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Yes, that’s right. I only use it in certain circumstances, such as when spotlight is failing to find something (it can find files that Spotlight can’t), or when I want to erase all trace of some app or service from my Mac (and AppCleaner is not doing a good enough job).

For those things, FindAnyFile is great. But it would not work as a launcher, or a quick search service … which I guess is what you’re looking for? (I wasn’t entirely sure from your initial post.)


I do Spotlight searches from Alfred and use Find Any File if I need to go another step. And Find Any File is fast on my M1 MBA.

Alfred Cheatsheet - Alfred Help and Support See “Find files quickly” subsection.

Find Any File - URL-scheme See “Special Applications” and “Alfred” subsections.


I had no idea Find Any File could search inside files. I had been using it to remove every file from apps I’ve deleted, which it finds all over the hard drive including in system folders.

I tried the text search just now and it took only about 15 seconds to search a very large volume of files for a specific last name buried in them. It even searched inside Word documents. Impressive!


It seems that the developer has continued to improve his app. It is a steal at $6! Free to try.


So it useful or beneficial to purchase foxtrot if I have Alfred and just started using HoudahSpot? I only got it because I have a Setapp subscription.