docs » hs.spotlight

This module allows Hammerspoon to preform Spotlight metadata queries.

This module will only be able to perform queries on volumes and folders which are not blocked by the Privacy settings in the System Preferences Spotlight panel.

A Spotlight query consists of two phases: an initial gathering phase where information currently in the Spotlight database is collected and returned, and a live-update phase which occurs after the gathering phase and consists of changes made to the Spotlight database, such as new entries being added, information in existing entries changing, or entities being removed.

The syntax for Spotlight Queries is beyond the scope of this module's documentation. It is a subset of the syntax supported by the Objective-C NSPredicate class. Some references for this syntax can be found at:

Depending upon the callback messages enabled with the hs.spotlight:callbackMessages method, your callback assigned with the hs.spotlight:setCallback method, you can determine the query phase by noting which messages you have received. During the initial gathering phase, the following callback messages may be observed: "didStart", "inProgress", and "didFinish". Once the initial gathering phase has completed, you will only observe "didUpdate" messages until the query is stopped with the hs.spotlight:stop method.

You can also check to see if the initial gathering phase is in progress with the hs.spotlight:isGathering method.

You can access the individual results of the query with the hs.spotlight:resultAtIndex method. For convenience, metamethods have been added to the spotlightObject which make accessing individual results easier: an individual spotlightItemObject may be accessed from a spotlightObject by treating the spotlightObject like an array; e.g. spotlightObject[n] will access the n'th spotlightItemObject in the current results.

API Overview

API Documentation

Constants

commonAttributeKeys
Signature hs.spotlight.commonAttributeKeys[]
Type Constant
Description

A list of defined attribute keys as discovered in the macOS 10.12 SDK framework headers.

This table contains a list of attribute strings that may be available for spotlightSearch result items. This list is by no means complete, and not every result will contain all or even most of these keys.

Notes:

  • This list was generated by searching the Framework header files for string constants which matched one of the following regular expressions: "kMDItem.+", "NSMetadataItem.+", and "NSMetadataUbiquitousItem.+"
definedSearchScopes
Signature hs.spotlight.definedSearchScopes[]
Type Constant
Description

A table of key-value pairs describing predefined search scopes for Spotlight queries

The keys for this table are as follows:

  • iCloudData - Search all files not in the Documents directories of the app’s iCloud container directories.
  • iCloudDocuments - Search all files in the Documents directories of the app’s iCloud container directories.
  • iCloudExternalDocuments - Search for documents outside the app’s container.
  • indexedLocalComputer - Search all indexed local mounted volumes including the current user’s home directory (even if the home directory is remote).
  • indexedNetwork - Search all indexed user-mounted remote volumes.
  • localComputer - Search all local mounted volumes, including the user home directory. The user’s home directory is searched even if it is a remote volume.
  • network - Search all user-mounted remote volumes.
  • userHome - Search the user’s home directory.

Notes:

  • It is uncertain at this time if the iCloud* search scopes are actually useful within Hammerspoon as Hammerspoon is not a sandboxed application that uses the iCloud API fo document storage. Further information on your experiences with these scopes, if you use them, is welcome in the Hammerspoon Google Group or at the Hammerspoon Github web site.

Constructors

new
Signature hs.spotlight.new() -> spotlightObject
Type Constructor
Description

Creates a new spotlightObject to use for Spotlight searches.

Parameters:

  • None

Returns:

  • a new spotlightObject
newWithin
Signature hs.spotlight.newWithin(spotlightObject) -> spotlightObject
Type Constructor
Description

Creates a new spotlightObject that limits its searches to the current results of another spotlightObject.

Parameters:

  • spotlightObject - the object whose current results are to be used to limit the scope of the new Spotlight search.

Returns:

  • a new spotlightObject

Methods

callbackMessages
Signature hs.spotlight:callbackMessages([messages]) -> table | spotlightObject
Type Method
Description

Get or specify the specific messages that should generate a callback.

Parameters:

  • messages - an optional table or list of items specifying the specific callback messages that will generate a callback. Defaults to { "didFinish" }.

Returns:

  • if an argument is provided, returns the spotlightObject; otherwise returns the current values

Notes:

  • Valid messages for the table are: "didFinish", "didStart", "didUpdate", and "inProgress". See hs.spotlight:setCallback for more details about the messages.
count
Signature hs.spotlight:count() -> integer
Type Method
Description

Returns the number of results for the spotlightObject's query

Parameters:

  • None

Returns:

  • if the query has collected results, returns the number of results that match the query; if the query has not been started, this value will be 0.

Notes:

  • Just because the result of this method is 0 does not mean that the query has not been started; the query itself may not match any entries in the Spotlight database.
  • A query which ran in the past but has been subsequently stopped will retain its queries unless the parameters have been changed. The result of this method will indicate the number of results still attached to the query, even if it has been previously stopped.

  • For convenience, metamethods have been added to the spotlightObject which allow you to use #spotlightObject as a shortcut for spotlightObject:count().

groupedResults
Signature hs.spotlight:groupedResults() -> table
Type Method
Description

Returns the grouped results for a Spotlight query.

Parameters:

  • None

Returns:

  • an array table containing the grouped results for the Spotlight query as specified by the hs.spotlight:groupingAttributes method. Each member of the array will be a spotlightGroupObject which is detailed in the hs.spotlight.group module documentation.

Notes:

  • The spotlightItemObjects available with the hs.spotlight.group:resultAtIndex method are the subset of the full results of the spotlightObject that match the attribute and value of the spotlightGroupObject. The same item is available through the spotlightObject and the spotlightGroupObject, though likely at different indicies.
groupingAttributes
Signature hs.spotlight:groupingAttributes([attributes]) -> table | spotlightObject
Type Method
Description

Get or set the grouping attributes for the Spotlight query.

Parameters:

  • attributes - an optional table or list of items specifying the grouping attributes for the Spotlight query. Defaults to an empty array.

Returns:

  • if an argument is provided, returns the spotlightObject; otherwise returns the current values

Notes:

  • Setting this property while a query is running stops the query and discards the current results. The receiver immediately starts a new query.
  • Setting this property will increase CPU and memory usage while performing the Spotlight query.

  • Thie method allows you to access results grouped by the values of specific attributes. See hs.spotlight.group for more information on using and accessing grouped results.

  • Note that not all attributes can be used as a grouping attribute. In such cases, the grouped result will contain all results and an attribute value of nil.
isGathering
Signature hs.spotlight:isGathering() -> boolean
Type Method
Description

Returns a boolean specifying whether or not the query is in the active gathering phase.

Parameters:

  • None

Returns:

  • a boolean value of true if the query is in the active gathering phase or false if it is not.

Notes:

  • An inactive query will also return false for this method since an inactive query is neither gathering nor waiting for updates. To determine if a query is active or inactive, use the hs.spotlight:isRunning method.
isRunning
Signature hs.spotlight:isRunning() -> boolean
Type Method
Description

Returns a boolean specifying if the query is active or inactive.

Parameters:

  • None

Returns:

  • a boolean value of true if the query is active or false if it is inactive.

Notes:

  • An active query may be gathering query results (in the initial gathering phase) or listening for changes which should cause a "didUpdate" message (after the initial gathering phase). To determine which state the query may be in, use the hs.spotlight:isGathering method.
queryString
Signature hs.spotlight:queryString(query) -> spotlightObject
Type Method
Description

Specify the query string for the spotlightObject

Parameters:

  • a string containing the query for the spotlightObject

Returns:

  • the spotlightObject

Notes:

  • Setting this property while a query is running stops the query and discards the current results. The receiver immediately starts a new query.

  • The query string syntax is not simple enough to fully describe here. It is a subset of the syntax supported by the Objective-C NSPredicate class. Some references for this syntax can be found at:

  • If the query string does not conform to an NSPredicate query string, this method will return an error. If the query string does conform to an NSPredicate query string, this method will accept the query string, but if it does not conform to the Metadata query format, which is a subset of the NSPredicate query format, the error will be generated when you attempt to start the query with hs.spotlight:start. At present, starting a query is the only way to fully guarantee that a query is in a valid format.

  • Some of the query strings which have been used during the testing of this module are as follows (note that [[ ]] is a Lua string specifier that allows for double quotes in the content of the string):

    • [[ kMDItemContentType == "com.apple.application-bundle" ]]
    • [[ kMDItemFSName like "Explore" ]]
    • [[ kMDItemFSName like "AppleScript Editor.app" or kMDItemAlternateNames like "AppleScript Editor"]]
  • Not all attributes appear to be usable in a query; see hs.spotlight.item:attributes for a possible explanation.

  • As a convenience, the __call metamethod has been setup for spotlightObject so that you can use spotlightObject("query") as a shortcut for spotlightObject:queryString("query"):start. Because this shortcut includes an explicit start, this should be appended after you have set the callback function if you require a callback (e.g. spotlightObject:setCallback(fn)("query")).

resultAtIndex
Signature hs.spotlight:resultAtIndex(index) -> spotlightItemObject
Type Method
Description

Returns the spotlightItemObject at the specified index of the spotlightObject

Parameters:

  • index - an integer specifying the index of the result to return.

Returns:

  • the spotlightItemObject at the specified index or an error if the index is out of bounds.

Notes:

  • For convenience, metamethods have been added to the spotlightObject which allow you to use spotlightObject[index] as a shortcut for spotlightObject:resultAtIndex(index).
searchScopes
Signature hs.spotlight:searchScopes([scope]) -> table | spotlightObject
Type Method
Description

Get or set the search scopes allowed for the Spotlight query.

Parameters:

  • scope - an optional table or list of items specifying the search scope for the Spotlight query. Defaults to an empty array, specifying that the search is not limited in scope.

Returns:

  • if an argument is provided for scope, returns the spotlightObject; otherwise returns a table containing the current search scopes.

Notes:

  • Setting this property while a query is running stops the query and discards the current results. The receiver immediately starts a new query.

  • Each item listed in the scope table may be a string or a file URL table as described in documentation for the hs.sharing.URL and hs.sharing.fileURL functions.

    • if an item is a string and matches one of the values in the hs.spotlight.definedSearchScopes table, then the scope for that item will be added to the valid search scopes.
    • if an item is a string and does not match one of the predefined values, it is treated as a path on the local system and will undergo tilde prefix expansion befor being added to the search scopes (i.e. "~/" will be expanded to "/Users/username/").
    • if an item is a table, it will be treated as a file URL table.
setCallback
Signature hs.spotlight:setCallback(fn | nil) -> spotlightObject
Type Method
Description

Set or remove the callback function for the Spotlight search object.

Parameters:

  • fn - the function to replace the current callback function. If this argument is an explicit nil, removes the current callback function and does not replace it. The function should expect 2 or 3 arguments and should return none.

Returns:

  • the spotlightObject

Notes:

  • Depending upon the messages set with the hs.spotlight:callbackMessages method, the following callbacks may occur:

    • obj, "didStart" -- occurs when the initial gathering phase of a Spotlight search begins.

      • obj - the spotlightObject performing the search
      • message - the message to the callback, in this case "didStart"
    • obj, "inProgress", updateTable -- occurs during the initial gathering phase at intervals set by the hs.spotlight:updateInterval method.

      • obj - the spotlightObject performing the search
      • message - the message to the callback, in this case "inProgress"
      • updateTable - a table containing one or more of the following keys:
        • kMDQueryUpdateAddedItems - an array table of spotlightItem objects that have been added to the results
      • kMDQueryUpdateChangedItems - an array table of spotlightItem objects that have changed since they were first added to the results
      • kMDQueryUpdateRemovedItems - an array table of spotlightItem objects that have been removed since they were first added to the results
    • obj, "didFinish" -- occurs when the initial gathering phase of a Spotlight search completes.

      • obj - the spotlightObject performing the search
      • message - the message to the callback, in this case "didFinish"
    • obj, "didUpdate", updateTable -- occurs after the initial gathering phase has completed. This indicates that a change has occurred after the initial query that affects the result set.

      • obj - the spotlightObject performing the search
      • message - the message to the callback, in this case "didUpdate"
      • updateTable - a table containing one or more of the keys described for the updateTable argument of the "inProgress" message.
  • All of the results are always available through the hs.spotlight:resultAtIndex method and metamethod shortcuts described in the hs.spotlight and hs.spotlight.item documentation headers; the results provided by the "didUpdate" and "inProgress" messages are just a convenience and can be used if you wish to parse partial results.

sortDescriptors
Signature hs.spotlight:sortDescriptors([attributes]) -> table | spotlightObject
Type Method
Description

Get or set the sorting preferences for the results of a Spotlight query.

Parameters:

  • attributes - an optional table or list of items specifying sort descriptors which affect the sorting order of results for a Spotlight query. Defaults to an empty array.

Returns:

  • if an argument is provided, returns the spotlightObject; otherwise returns the current values

Notes:

  • Setting this property while a query is running stops the query and discards the current results. The receiver immediately starts a new query.

  • A sort descriptor may be specified as a string or as a table of key-value pairs. In the case of a string, the sort descriptor will sort items in an ascending manner. When specified as a table, at least the following keys should be specified:

    • key - a string specifying the attribute to sort by
    • ascending - a boolean, default true, specifying whether the sort order should be ascending (true) or descending (false).
  • This method attempts to specify the sorting order of the results returned by the Spotlight query.

  • Note that not all attributes can be used as an attribute in a sort descriptor. In such cases, the sort descriptor will have no affect on the order of returned items.
start
Signature hs.spotlight:start() -> spotlightObject
Type Method
Description

Begin the gathering phase of a Spotlight query.

Parameters:

  • None

Returns:

  • the spotlightObject

Notes:

  • If the query string set with hs.spotlight:queryString is invalid, an error message will be logged to the Hammerspoon console and the query will not start. You can test to see if the query is actually running with the hs.spotlight:isRunning method.
stop
Signature hs.spotlight:stop() -> spotlightObject
Type Method
Description

Stop the Spotlight query.

Parameters:

  • None

Returns:

  • the spotlightObject

Notes:

  • This method will prevent further gathering of items either during the initial gathering phase or from updates which may occur after the gathering phase; however it will not discard the results already discovered.
updateInterval
Signature hs.spotlight:updateInterval([interval]) -> number | spotlightObject
Type Method
Description

Get or set the time interval at which the spotlightObject will send "didUpdate" messages during the initial gathering phase.

Parameters:

  • interval - an optional number, default 1.0, specifying how often in seconds the "didUpdate" message should be generated during the initial gathering phase of a Spotlight query.

Returns:

  • if an argument is provided, returns the spotlightObject object; otherwise returns the current value.
valueListAttributes
Signature hs.spotlight:valueListAttributes([attributes]) -> table | spotlightObject
Type Method
Description

Get or set the attributes for which value list summaries are produced for the Spotlight query.

Parameters:

  • attributes - an optional table or list of items specifying the attributes for which value list summaries are produced for the Spotlight query. Defaults to an empty array.

Returns:

  • if an argument is provided, returns the spotlightObject; otherwise returns the current values

Notes:

  • Setting this property while a query is running stops the query and discards the current results. The receiver immediately starts a new query.
  • Setting this property will increase CPU and memory usage while performing the Spotlight query.

  • This method allows you to specify attributes for which you wish to gather summary information about. See hs.spotlight:valueLists for more information about value list summaries.

  • Note that not all attributes can be used as a value list attribute. In such cases, the summary for the attribute will specify all results and an attribute value of nil.
valueLists
Signature hs.spotlight:valueLists() -> table
Type Method
Description

Returns the value list summaries for the Spotlight query

Parameters:

  • None

Returns:

  • an array table of the value list summaries for the Spotlight query as specified by the hs.spotlight:valueListAttributes method. Each member of the array will be a table with the following keys:
    • attribute - the attribute for the summary
    • value - the value of the attribute for the summary
    • count - the number of Spotlight items in the spotlightObject results for which this attribute has this value

Notes:

  • Value list summaries are a quick way to gather statistics about the number of results which match certain criteria - they do not allow you easy access to the matching members, just information about their numbers.