Got a tip for us? Let us know a. Send us an email b. Anonymous form close x. Apple has enhanced Spotlight search in macOS in recent years, with the addition of Spotlight Suggestions allowing it to tap into a variety of online data sources like weather and sports. Nevertheless, helping you find apps, documents and other files stored on your Mac is still what Spotlight does best.
How to Fix Spotlight Problems by Rebuilding the Index
That's not to say its core function is infallible, however. If Spotlight can't find files that you know exist on your Mac, or if it stops prioritizing results based on your earlier searches, then it's probably a sign that your system's search index is damaged somehow. If you're experiencing odd behavior when using Spotlight, you should try rebuilding its search database index. There are Terminal commands that will do the job, but you can achieve the same result via the regular macOS user interface in just a few quick steps.
Here's how. Select System Preferences Click the Spotlight pane. Click the Privacy tab. Select the folder or disk whose index you wish to re-build, then click Choose. Alternatively, drag the folder or disk into the list. We've chosen Documents in our example.
How to use, troubleshoot, and repair your Mac
In the same list, click the folder or disk that you just added and then click the Remove - button. Click the red traffic light button to close System Preferences. Once you've completed these steps, Spotlight will begin reindexing the contents of the folder s or disk s you chose, which may take some time and a few processor cycles. Depending on which version of macOS you're running, you may see a rebuild progress indicator in Spotlight's menu bar item.
With a bit of luck, your Spotlight problems will have been resolved once indexing is complete. You can also perform a system-wide re-index of the Spotlight database, among many other optimizations, using Titanium Software's free Onyx utility , which is available for all recent versions of macOS. Related Roundup: macOS Mojave. Top Rated Comments View all.
You can also just run this command in Terminal and it will do a system-wide Spotlight reindex. One issue I have noticed a Spotlight reindex will often fix is if you are getting an incorrect readout for Storage in System Report.
It seems that Apple assumes Mac users only need to search Mac formatted drives that are connected directly to Mac computers running Mac OS. Even with simple filename based searches, Mac OS 9 from 20 years ago or even Unix find seems to find filenames better than Spotlight when searching "non Apple approved" volumes. Also, what search engine does Apple use on their own Support website? Trying to search for a simple phrase returns hundreds of pages of irrelevant results. It also seems like their website search uses implicit "OR" instead of "AND" for searches containing multiple words.
It's pathetic that I have to use an external Google search to find stuff inside Apple's own website. Weird timing. I was having an issue with two of my Sierra Macs where the Spotlight window would disappear right after beginning to type. I forced a re-index and it seems to have fixed the issue.
One of my Macs was showing different amounts of free drive space in different user accounts. It never occurred to me that Spotlight might have an effect Yeah, OnyX is amazing. I find it super useful to change certain parameters, like how screenshots are named and what format they're saved in. Apple should advertise this functionality.
If apple added AI bill, business card, and receipt recognition to spotlight that would be even better. Long live coverflow!
He was searching for text in a bunch of PDFs from within Preview, and coming up empty—even though he knew the text he was searching for was there. The fix turned out to be a pretty obscure one: I had him open the Spotlight pane of System Preferences, click on the Privacy tab, and drag his folder full of PDFs into the tab.
Then I had him remove the folder and wait a moment for Spotlight to re-index all the files in that folder.
Rebuild the Spotlight Index
This solved the problem. When you remove the disk folder from the Privacy tab, Spotlight cranks up its background processes and re-indexes everything. Since Dropbox works by syncing my files to my Mac, Spotlight will index them and make them searchable just as it would any other file. Instead, it downloads empty files that have the names of my cloud documents, and when I click on them, the real documents open in my web browser. I use search all the time to open up Google Docs and Google Sheets files directly.
HoudahSpot offers a flexible, friendly front-end to searching the Spotlight database.
How to Rebuild the Spotlight Index on Your Mac
Jason Snell. Get the Apple Watch Series 3 at Walmart for the lowest prices ever. More to the search bar Spotlight is a search engine that runs on your Mac. You can generate complex search queries quickly from a Finder window.