How to Rebuild the Spotlight Index on Mac OS X

How to Rebuild the Spotlight Index on Mac OS X

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Spotlight is a built-in searching utility for Macs and it works pretty effectively. It searches for docs, files, folders, and apps by their names, even by words that may appear in the filename. Sometimes, Spotlight stops working and it doesn't give you results. This can be fixed by rebuilding its index! It will be running again and you'll get the results you are expecting for.

As for me, I can't live without it and need it nearly every day, so I understand that this situation can be a great trouble for Mac users. Be sure that you'll be able to find anything on your Mac again, let's find out how to do it!

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Overview

So, let's begin with how Spotlight works. You can access the search on Mac in different ways.

For example, you can tap on the glass icon at the top right corner on the Mac's screen.

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Alternatively, you may use a keyboard shortcut to access Spotlight. By default, it is the 'Command+Spacebar' combination.

No matter whether you used the glass icon or the shortcut, an input bar will appear on your screen.Type a word or phrase you want to search for.

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After you start typing, this box will expand with the search results in real time. You may wonder how long will the searching process last. It depends on the overall number of files on your Mac, the speed of HDD or SSD, and the system type. For example, searching will be performed faster in MacOS High Sierra.

Take a look at the screenshot I added above. I have searched for Terminal. As I've already mentioned, you can find nearly everything on your Mac in such a way. Spotlight can even perform some other neat stuff, for instance, calculating something for you!

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How to fix Spotlight?

This app is really effective and handy, so... it may be frustrating when it stops working correctly. What to do in such case? The answer is... Re-indexing the database of Spotlight.

Click the 'Apple menu' button, you can find it at the upper left corner. Choose 'System Preferences' after a drop-down window appears.

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A new window with the system preferences will open. Click the 'Spotlight' button.

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Go to the 'Privacy' tab under the Spotlight preferences. After that, find a button with a plus on it at the bottom left corner.

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Find the startup disk of your Mac. It may be named 'Macintosh ID'. Alternatively, you can find it by clicking a drop-down window at the top of the box.

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Choose the startup disk from the appeared drop-down window.

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As I've already said before, it can be named 'Macintosh ID', but if your disk is not called so, tell that you have got the right item by an icon, it just looks like a silver-colored drive.

If you don't see such icon in the menu, click on the 'Applications' button, or the home folder in the left sidebar, and then search for it again under the drop-down window.

Click 'Choose' after you selected your startup disk. Your Mac will ask whether you agree to take the next action.

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Click 'Ok', and don't worry, as Spotlight will be right back after you finish all the steps described here. Confirm that you are sure what are you doing now, and then your drive will appear under the 'Privacy' tab.

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Now the disk is put here, but we have to take it back in order to re-index the disk in Spotlight. This is all you need to do, great! Click on the disk in 'Privacy', highlight it's name, and tap on the button with a minus on it at the bottom.

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It is all, finally! Spotlight has re-indexed all the information on your Mac and you can continue using search as before.

Type something and see a progress bar. It will show you if the indexing is already done.

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At the end, I'd like to notice that reindexing Spotlight can take lots of your Mac's resources, so don't worry, if you notice worsening of performance. If will be back in its usual place after the procedure ends. It may last for several hours, so make sure you won't need your Mac for some serious work before rebuilding the Spotlight index.

After the process finishes, you can enjoy the comfortable and quick search in handy and familiar Spotlight again!

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