TextClippingImporter 1.0

Make text clipping files searchable in Spotlight.


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With the introduction of Mac OS X 10.4, Apple added a powerful, extensible file search engine called Spotlight. The search facility works by using plugins to identify certain file types and extract searchable data from them. The OS ships with a collection of importer plugins, and numerous 3rd-party developers have provided additional plugins for (usually) their own private data formats.

One file type conspicuously unsupported by Apple is the text clipping. For many years, Apple has supported drag-and-drop editing of text and among the abilities of this feature is that a bit of dragged text can be dropped on the desktop where it appears as a file that can later be dragged into an open text editing application. But Spotlight doesn't index them. Until now.

TextClippingImporter is, as the name implies, a Spotlight importer plugin that indexes the context of text clippings. Installation is trivial and use after that is transparent.


The importer is a Universal binary (runs natively on PowerPC and Intel machines) and supports any machine which has Mac OS X 10.4 or higher (i.e. Spotlight).


Drag the TextClippingImporter.mdimporter file into a directory named "Spotlight" inside either your user Library directory or the shared Library directory at the root of your hard drive. If the Spotlight folder doesn't exist, just create one. Done. There's no need to restart or log out. Any text clippings created from then on will be indexed. There is a second step if you want to index existing clipping files. And you do. Open up a terminal window (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app) and type the following command:

find -s ~ -name "*.textClipping" -exec mdimport -f {} \;

Probably best just to copy that line and paste it into the terminal. What that command does is find each text clipping that exists under your home directory and force Spotlight to reindex it.


Donation-ware. This was a quick project inspired by a call for help on Usenet. If you find it useful, please consider a donation in any amount you consider reasonable to support the development of this utility and others. Donations can be made via PayPal to gweston@mac.com or paper mail to:

Greg Weston
PO Box 54
Avon CT 06001