HoudahSpot search

The really excellent HoudahSpot - a brilliant search engine for the Mac that is much more effective than the Mac’s own Spotlight - has one problem: if you search for something and it’s in a Scrivener document, it also finds all the backups of that document, putting you at risk of opening a backup and making changes to it.

It is possible to change your default HoudahSpot search to exclude any file with ‘backup’ in the name, as described on the software’s help forum here -

forums.houdah.com/post/how-to-ex … 1289572429

  • but is there any way that Scrivener can itself exclude its backups from such searches?

Incidentally, I tried searching in Spotlight, and found backup.scriv files, but they would not open. But they will open from HoudahSpot’s search window.

The best thing to do is to set up your backups to be zipped automatically (ticking the “Compress automatic backups as zip files” option in the “Backup” pane of the preferences). This way, they won’t be searchable. There’s no way of excluding them otherwise, because .scriv backups are just regular .scriv files.

All the best,

Many thanks, Keithvin.

Edit - that was actually already checked… hm.

Perhaps you have some copies of the project you backed up yourself, using File/Back Up/Back Up To… or even just File/Save As…? The former does have a Zip checkbox, but it is off by default, and the latter just creates a new copy of the project, closing the old one and moving your focus to the newly created version. If you do that often enough, you’ll end up with a bunch of backed up older versions of the project that are free and clear for search tools to locate the contents of.

I don’t think I’ve used File/Save As for these; there are something like five copies of each backup, and they’re called things like Backup.scriv, Backup-1.scriv and so on, I think.

Spotlight search has just done the same thing, twice, presenting me with backups when I wanted the actual project. Very dangerous. I noticed it the first time, because a project that should have had four named folders with stories in each one had only four blank folders. The second one I was about to make changes and happened to glance up at the menu bar and see the title…

I have not backed up any projects in any deliberate way myself; I rely on Scrivener to do its own backups. I back up the computer to an external hard drive once a week or so, and to a hard drive in someone else’s house every couple of months.

I occasionally run Cocktail to tidy up the Mac’s hard drive, and yesterday ran Onyx to put manners on Safari, which had been misbehaving.

With the latest project format change, Scrivener itself creates a backup copy that is not .zip archived. I haven’t noticed any options to have it archive the old version for me, so I’ve had to locate and compress those backups to prevent them from showing up in my file searches and recent documents lists.

But how often does Scrivener back up? Wouldn’t you be forever zipping?

The backup that I’m referring to is a one-time-per-project update to the format of the project. You may have noticed a pop-up when you opened an existing project after the 2.7 upgrade, yes? That pop-up told you that it was going to update the project format and create a backup in the older 2.6 format just in case.

The automatic-for-safe-keeping-and-not-for-project-format-changes backups can be set to zip compress themselves in Scrivener->Preferences->Backup.

That option’s always been checked in my Scrivener - at least, I assume so since I’ve never noticed it before and it’s checked now.

Oh, nice workaround! I’ve been clearing it all every now and again - I don’t particularly like to be an advertising research project with a million ‘cookies’ hung around my neck - and each time sighing and re-entering all passwords. What was Apple thinking of, separating these things in that nasty bossy way? But then, Apple has nasty bossy ways in various other aspects: try, for instance, reading your system’s teenyweeny print in things like the address book.

And don’t tell me to use gestures; the ones advertised in the System Prefs just don’t work, and there are only a couple of gestures I routinely make to Apple when trying to read this impossibly tiny print; they include biting the thumb and other ancient cultural symbols.

I just closed a Scrivener file, and it was backing up under the name


or something like that.

Does this mean that the old files with names including the word “Backup” can be deleted, or would that be crazily incautious?

The projects with “Backup” in the name are what rdale is referring to above. They are created the first time you open an older project in the new version, since that requires changing the format. This backup is meant to be there in case something goes wrong with that update. In that case you would have a copy of the project from before the update ran, and you could contact us with help on getting it updated successfully. It’s purely a safeguard for that one-time process, and when compared with the other backups you have (with .zip in the name), it is redundant once you’ve verified the project opens in 2.7 and is all fine. So yes, feel free to get rid of it.

Thanks. I might (rather than getting rid of them) put them into a folder and zip that. Would that stop the searches finding them?


Simple way to find out: try it.

I’m asking if it’s safe to do this.

In what way might it not be safe?

These are backups, not your working files. You are putting them in a zip file (something that Scrivener does every time it creates a backup), so the process is safe. Presumably you are a sane person and already have back ups of these files on TimeMachine and/or external disks and/or a flash drive and/or another computer &/or a cloud service. So the worst that could happen is that the zip file gets corrupted (unlikely - I don’t remember ever losing data in a zip file, certainly not in the last 10 years) and you restore these files from a back up.

However, you don’t even need to delete the originals to test the process. Just create the zip file of the folder they are in. If the zip file is searchable, then those zipped copies will be returned by HoudahSpot. If they’re not searchable, then HoudahSpot will simply return the same results it does now. Either way, you have the answer to your question.

If you’re really worried about the status of your zip file, uncompress it somewhere else and compare the results to the originals. Then you will know that your zip file works, and can safely delete the originals (along with the copies you just created from the zip file).