This might be a very niche thing, but I have a lot of local and downloaded videos on my Mac that I keep for educational purposes, and was wondering if it's possible to search through the transcriptions/speech within the video.

I know searching in finder allows the ability to search within text documents and file contents, I'm looking for something similar for videos.

I'm willing to manually attach the transcriptions myself to every video if that's required, since there are many apps that can do that. But the ability to search my entire Mac, like in finder, for a certain phrase and see which videos contain those search results would be extremely useful.

The closest thing available right now natively on macOS is to just paste as much of the transcript inside the comments section of the video's 'get info'. Doing this allows searching in finder and getting the video in the search results but there is character count limit so it's very limiting.

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3 Answers 3


If the mp4 file has a subtitle track, you could extract the text to a .srt file using mp4box (more info can be found at How to extract subtitles from MP4 and MKV movies. Of course, you would need to do this for every file you have then search within those .srt files.

  • yeah I was thinking of doing something similar to this if there wasn't any other way, or simply getting all the transcripts and saving them onto an excel file to search from there. But I would have really preferred a way to search for a specific phrase that I think a video might have and immediately pop open the video. Thanks for the suggestion though!
    – Anthney
    Jul 23, 2020 at 4:17

Spotlight Importer

What you are looking for is a Spotlight Importer for movie file subtitles. There are numerous open source importers on GitHub.

If none match your needs, consider writing a Spotlight Importer to index the embedded subtitles. Importers look complex to write but they are not too bad. Be sure to start with the Xcode template project.


A Terminal-based approach is rga. It can extract video metadata such as chapters and subtitles and creates a cached index for fast searching. It searches .mkv, .mp4 and .avi files.

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