How to Rebuild the Spotlight Index on Your Mac

by

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
26 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: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
VictorTango777 Avatar
26 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
26 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)
macdaddy44 Avatar
26 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: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djlythium Avatar
26 months ago
I never knew this was possible.

I love these tutorials!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr_Brightside_@ Avatar
26 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)

Top Stories

0 Deals Hero

Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Deals to Plan For

Saturday November 21, 2020 10:00 am PST by
In the lead-up to Black Friday next week, we've been putting a spotlight on the best deals coming from various retailers like Best Buy and Walmart. In an effort to further prepare our readers for the best Black Friday deals, we're breaking down what we think should be on your radar for Black Friday in 2020. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
m1 mac mini vignette

Apple Lists M1-Based Mac Mini Logic Boards With 10 Gigabit Ethernet in Internal Parts Ordering System

Friday November 20, 2020 9:32 am PST by
While the new Mac mini with the M1 chip is only available with Gigabit Ethernet, Apple has listed multiple M1-based Mac mini logic boards with 10 Gigabit Ethernet in an internal parts list for Apple Authorized Service Providers. For every Mac mini logic board with Gigabit Ethernet in the parts list, obtained by MacRumors, there is a corresponding logic board with 10 Gigabit Ethernet:...
new m1 chip

Craig Federighi: Native Windows on M1 Macs is 'Really up to Microsoft'

Friday November 20, 2020 11:57 am PST by
Following the release of the M1 Macs Apple executives have been doing interviews with a range of publications, and today, Ars Technica published another interview with software engineering chief Craig Federighi, hardware technologies lead Johny Srouji, and marketing VP Greg Joswiak. Much of the interview focuses on topics that the three have already covered in prior discussions, but there is ...
14

Apple Releases iOS 14.2.1 With Fix for Text Message Bug and iPhone 12 Mini Lock Screen Issues

Thursday November 19, 2020 10:16 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 14.2.1, a bug fix update that comes two weeks after the launch of iOS 14.2 and is available for Apple's new iPhone 12 models. The iOS 14.2.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. According to Apple's release notes, iOS...
Walmart November Deals Hero

Black Friday Spotlight: Walmart Will Have AirPods Pro Down to Lowest Price of $169, and More Apple Deals

Thursday November 19, 2020 8:05 am PST by
We've been tracking early Black Friday deals in our dedicated Black Friday Roundup, and in an effort to prepare our readers for the big shopping event we're highlighting sales store-by-store in the lead-up to November 27. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Walmart. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Next ...
apple leather sleeve

Leather Sleeve for iPhone 12 Models Now Available From Apple

Friday November 20, 2020 12:16 pm PST by
Apple today began selling the Leather Sleeve for the new iPhone 12 models, with the accessory having first been announced alongside the updated iPhones in October. Priced at $129, the Leather Sleeve is not a case and is designed to be removed when the iPhone is in use. It features a cutout at the front that displays the time, and it comes with a matching leather strap. According to Apple, it ...
iOS14AntitrackFacebookSadfeature

Apple Confirms Commitment to App Tracking Transparency in Letter Condemning Facebook's Data Collection [Updated]

Thursday November 19, 2020 11:58 am PST by
Apple in iOS 14 is planning to introduce a new App Tracking Transparency feature that will let users know when companies want to track them across apps and website. Following outcry from developers like Facebook and ad networks unprepared for the change, Apple delayed the implementation of the anti-tracking functionality until early 2021. Eight civil society organizations recently sent a...
maxresdefault

CrossOver Allows x86 Windows Apps to Run on Apple M1 Macs

Wednesday November 18, 2020 6:07 pm PST by
Codeweavers posted a blog post and video tonight showing off CrossOver running on an Apple M1 MacBook Air. This video shows Team Fortress 2 running on a new M1 MacBook Air: CrossOver is software (based on Wine Project) that runs Microsoft Windows apps on the Mac by translating Windows APIs into their Mac equivalents. The Codeweavers team was able to run the current version of CrossOver on...
macbookpro13large

Apple Offers Instructions on What to Do if macOS Big Sur Causes Installation Errors on 2013 and 2014 MacBook Pro

Thursday November 19, 2020 6:12 pm PST by
Following the release of macOS Big Sur last week, a number of 2013 and 2014 MacBook Pro owners found that the update bricked their machines. Affected users saw their Macs get stuck displaying a black screen after attempting to install the new software. Apple has now addressed this issue in a new support document that provides instructions on what to do if macOS Big Sur can't be installed on...
128gb m1 macbook air education cropped

$799 M1 MacBook Air With 128GB Storage for Education Institutions Spotted Online

Friday November 20, 2020 5:15 am PST by
A new configuration of the M1 MacBook Air with 128GB of storage and a lower $799 price has today been spotted on Apple's U.S. Education Institution Hardware and Software Price List. The M1 MacBook Air is only available with 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB of storage. There is currently no 128GB configuration on the Apple Store. However, Reddit user "u/dduci97" noticed that Apple has listed...