It seems that Recoll will sometimes find data that Spotlight misses (especially inside pdfs apparently, which is probably more to the credit of poppler than recoll itself).

There several possible ways to install Recoll in MacOS:

  • Use MacPorts: there is a Recoll port in MacPorts. It is usually well behind the current Recoll version. There is also a quite simple way to build a more recent version through a local ports tree (see further).

  • Use Homebrew: there is a Homebrew recipee in the recoll source repository, it is quite old, but I guess that it would be possible to update it.

  • Use a hybrid approach: install recoll through a standalone native Mac package (a .app in a dmg, downloaded from the Recoll Web site), possibly add some helper applications by your preferred method (MacPorts, homebrew, fink, etc.).

Recoll with MacPorts

The official MacPorts version is usually a bit old as it’s not easy to get it to update. The current version (02-2020) is 1.25.22, which is quite usable.

Standard MacPorts install:

link:https://www.MacPorts.org/install.php[Install MacPorts].
Then type "sudo port install recoll"

Recoll is then available from the command line and as an icon in the usual MacPorts applications place.

You can also easily perform a local repository build with the more up-to-date Portfile from the recoll source tree. Look at the recipe, it’s really quite simple.

Hybrid approach

The above approach is fine if you are a MacPorts user. However, if you are using Homebrew or Fink, it’s not really convenient.

I now build a native Recoll package. Current version: recoll-1.29.0pre1-d44f8993.dmg

(If you give this a try, please tell me if it works: jfd@recoll.org).

The base Recoll.app installation processes the "internal" Recoll document formats (text, html, libreoffice, ms-office, mail, epub, etc.). It only runs on x86 for now.

However it would be a lot of work to get all helper applications to live inside Recoll.app, as most need a modification to learn where to find their data files (hint: they are not in /usr/share…​). For an important example, the default application cannot process PDF files.

To process PDF files, you will need to install 'poppler' with your preferred package manager.

Recoll then needs a little help to find the commands, because the PATH variable seen when started through the desktop launcher is quite restricted. There is a configuration variable for this: recollhelperpath, to be set in your index configuration file (~/.recoll/recoll.conf by default).

Typically, if you are using MacPorts to install the helpers:

recollhelperpath = /opt/local/bin

With Homebrew this would probably be:

recollhelperpath = /usr/local/bin

You can include several directories by separating the paths with colons:

recollhelperpath = /opt/local/bin:/usr/local/bin:/Users/me/bin

The Recoll.app application is built with Qt Creator on MacOS catalina, using the .pro files which were originally set up for Windows (qtgui/recoll.pro, windows/qmk/recollindex.pro, windows/qmk/librecoll.pro). Xapian is priorly built as a static library, using its own regular build scripts, and macdeployqt is used to produce the .dmg

If you want to build the app and need a bit of help, contact me, I am too lazy to write a detailed howto at the moment, but you will provide the opportunity…​