Tembo: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Find What You're Looking for With Ease

Courtesy of Houdah Software

Tembo from Houdah Software is a front-end for the Mac’s built-in Spotlight search system. Now, you may be asking yourself why you need a search system when you already have Spotlight; and why a new front-end, isn’t Spotlight good enough?

Spotlight is indeed good, but Tembo is better, at least at organizing and displaying search results. Since Tembo uses the same search engine as Spotlight, the search results will appear just as quickly as they do with Spotlight.

But Tembo offers a wealth of categories and filters well beyond those available in Spotlight, to help you quickly find and organize search results.

And perhaps best of all, unlike Spotlight, you can place the Tembo window wherever you want it, and it won’t disappear if you click away from it.


  • Groups search results by file type.
  • Groups have additional filters to help you narrow down the results.
  • Easy to drill down into search results.
  • Long list of filters and keywords that can be used.
  • Rename, tag, or trash files directly from the search results.


  • Limited to finding the same indexed items as Spotlight.

Tembo is a front-end to Spotlight, which means it uses the same indexing system and search engine as Spotlight. This helps explain the speed of Tembo, and also its main disadvantage: it can only find the same files as Spotlight does. If you're looking for hidden system files that Spotlight doesn't index, Tembo won’t be of any help.

However, Tembo has a lot going for it, including a search window that's larger and easier to use than Spotlight's search window. You can also put the Tembo window anywhere you want it; once you set it down, it won't move around on you.

Using Tembo

The Tembo window is divided into a search field near the top, and a results area that's organized by groups, such as Applications, System Preferences, Documents, Messages, Contacts, Images, and Music; you get the idea.

There's also a set of filters displayed along the right side that you can use to help narrow the search results. The filters include the ability to sort by date last opened, modified, or created, and search by a data range, such as today, yesterday, or last week. In addition, you can filter by location, folders, and drives.

You can drill down into a group to further refine your search. Once you move down into a group, the filter types you can apply change based on the group you're in. For instance, in the Documents group, there are filters for document types, such as text, rich text, zip archives, and word processing. If you select the message group, the filters change to filtering by subject, author, and recipient. Each group has its own set of appropriate filters you can use to narrow your search.


One very helpful feature is Actions, which allows you to perform various actions on a selected file in the search results. Some actions are obvious, such as opening a file, but you can also reveal the file in the Finder, rename the file, apply a Finder Tag to the file, or simply trash the file directly from Tembo.

When you really need to find an item on your Mac, Tembo can take the angst out of looking.

If you can’t find it with Tembo, it probably isn't there.

Tembo is $15.00 for a single-user license. A family license for all members of a single household is $22. A demo is available.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.

Published: 8/15/2015