macos spotlight icon e1542458658324Apple 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.

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.

  1. Select System Preferences... from the Apple () menu at the top left of your screen.
    how to reindex spotlight00

  2. Click the Spotlight pane.
    how to reindex spotlight01

  3. Click the Privacy tab.
  4. Click the Add (+) button.
    how to reindex spotlight02

  5. 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 reindex spotlight03

  6. In the same list, click the folder or disk that you just added and then click the Remove (-) button.
    how to reindex spotlight04

  7. 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.

Top Rated Comments

Weaselboy Avatar
53 months ago
You can also perform a system-wide re-index of the Spotlight database, among many other optimizations, using Titanium Software's free Onyx utility ('https://www.titanium-software.fr/en/onyx.html'), which is available for all recent versions of macOS.
You can also just run this command in Terminal and it will do a system-wide Spotlight reindex.

sudo mdutil -E /

I've tried this rebuild previously and found it did not change anything.
Anyone with different experience?
One issue I have noticed a Spotlight reindex will often fix is if you are getting an incorrect readout for Storage in System Report. If the Spotlight index is corrupted it will make that storage readout all wrong and a reindex can fix it.



Attachment Image
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macdaddy44 Avatar
53 months ago
This is a more extensive rebuild as it removes a possibly corrupt index database -

• mdutil -i off /
• sudo rm -rf /.Spotlight-V100
• sudo rm -rf /.Spotlight-V200
• mdutil -i on /
• mdutil -E /
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
VictorTango777 Avatar
53 months ago
It seems that Apple assumes Mac users only need to search Mac formatted drives that are connected directly to Mac computers running Mac OS. Forget about shared folders on Windows servers or read-only volumes such as NTFS drives or DVD media. 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.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kwikdeth Avatar
53 months ago
Onyx is a great utility, been using it for years. It also gives you access to enable a bunch of other hidden settings and options. For example, One option I like to enable is turning launchpad's background to greyscale. I find this makes it easier and faster to locate items on the launchpad that I don't frequently access.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djlythium Avatar
53 months ago
I never knew this was possible.

I love these tutorials!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr_Brightside_@ Avatar
53 months ago
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.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone Measure Height

Newer iPhones Allow You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly — Here's How

Saturday December 3, 2022 10:23 am PST by
iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models feature a LiDAR Scanner next to the rear camera that can be used to measure a person's height instantly in Apple's preinstalled Measure app. To measure a person's height, simply open the Measure app, point your iPhone at the person you want to measure, and make sure they are visible on the screen from...
iOS 16

When Will iOS 16.2 Be Released?

Friday December 2, 2022 2:13 pm PST by
Apple in late October began testing iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 updates, providing betas to both developers and public beta testers. As of now, we've had four total betas, with the fourth beta having been released earlier this week. iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 are expected before the end of the year, and we thought we'd try to narrow down the launch timeline. With only four betas released since...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

Major RAM Upgrade Coming to Next-Generation MacBook Pro

Friday December 2, 2022 2:03 am PST by
The next-generation MacBook Pro models could feature faster RAM, according to a recent report from a reliable source. MacRumors Forums member "Amethyst," who accurately revealed details about the Mac Studio and Studio Display before those products were announced, recently provided information about Apple's upcoming 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The new machines are expected to feature...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Launching This Month With These 8 New Features

Thursday December 1, 2022 8:44 am PST by
Apple plans to publicly release iOS 16.2 for the iPhone in mid-December, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The update remains in beta testing for now, with at least eight new features and changes already uncovered so far. iOS 16.2 introduces a number of new features, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications, the ability to hide...
apple ar headset concept 1

Kuo: Apple Headset Shipments Potentially Delayed Until Second Half of 2023

Sunday December 4, 2022 7:38 am PST by
Mass shipments of Apple's long-rumored AR/VR headset may be delayed until the second half of 2023 due to unspecified "software-related issues," according to the latest information shared today by tech analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple headset render by Ian Zelbo Kuo said mass shipments of components for the headset are still likely to begin in the first half of 2023, but he believes that mass...
Emergency SOS via Satellite iPhone YT

Apple's iPhone 14 Emergency SOS via Satellite Feature Saves Stranded Man in Alaska

Thursday December 1, 2022 4:37 pm PST by
With the launch of iOS 16.1, Apple rolled out a Emergency SOS via Satellite, which is designed to allow iPhone 14 owners to contact emergency services using satellite connectivity when no cellular or WiFi connection is available. The feature was put to the test in Alaska today, when a man became stranded in a rural area. In the early hours of the morning on December 1, Alaska State Troopers ...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Rumored to Have These 5 Exclusive Features

Saturday December 3, 2022 10:55 am PST by
While we're still around nine months away from Apple unveiling the iPhone 15 lineup, rumors already suggest that the higher-end Pro models will have even more exclusive features than usual compared to the standard models next year. There are currently at least five features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17 Bionic...
top stories 3dec2022

Top Stories: M2 Max Benchmark Leak, iPhone 15 Camera Rumor, and More

Saturday December 3, 2022 6:00 am PST by
With Black Friday and Cyber Week shopping events winding down and the calendar flipping over to December, our attention is starting to turn to 2023 and all of the Apple news we're expecting to see. This week saw an alleged benchmark leak for an "M2 Max" chip expected to make an appearance in upcoming Macs like the MacBook Pro early next year, as well as fresh rumors about the iPhone 15...
android apple fix rcs

Google Again Criticizes Apple for Not Adopting RCS for Messages App: 'Their Texting is Stuck in the 1990s'

Friday December 2, 2022 10:54 am PST by
Google is continuing on with its attempt to convince Apple to adopt the RCS messaging standard, publishing a new "it's time for RCS" blog post. Promoted heavily by Google, RCS or Rich Communication Services is a messaging standard that is designed to replace the current SMS messaging standard. It provides support for higher resolution photos and videos, audio messages, and bigger file sizes, ...
maxresdefault

Can't Get an iPhone 14 Pro? Here's Why You Should Wait for the iPhone 15 Ultra

Monday December 5, 2022 11:44 am PST by
Due to production issues at Apple supplier factories in China, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are backordered and basically out of stock at every store. If you were planning to gift or receive an iPhone 14 Pro model for the holidays and didn't already get one, you're basically out of luck because they're gone until late December. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...