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MacOS Spotlight Nonsense & Reindexing

February 12, 2019

Recently, Spotlight had been acting up.

For example: When I search for Spotify (an app I use every day), it wouldn’t show up. Instead I’d get Spotlight - or if I typed out the entire query, I’d get emails where I mentioned Spotify. The app was not present.

I rely on Spotlight to open my apps (because who has time to actually open the App launcher and I don’t have an assistant like Alfred).

The nice folks over at MacIssues documented a few other instances of when you might need to rebuild the index for Spotlight. Their list includes a few different ways in which Search can break down:

  1. You search for calc and Calendar is the first result (and Calculator may or may not even be one of the results)
  2. Missing files: You cannot find a file you know exists regardless of how its searched
  3. Improper priorities: If you use Spotify every day but it shows up below an email you sent 6 years ago with an offhand reference to the service.
  4. Duplicates: Assuming there’s not an actual duplicate file… this would be indicative of a problem.

Which brings us to the quick (and easy) way to have Spotlight reindex. All in - takes < 1 minute.

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Go to Spotlight
  3. Open the Privacy Tab
  4. Click the + button and select your Macintosh HD (This can be selected via the path on the left or with the shortcut Cmd + Shift + c
  5. You may get a warning to confirm the choice. Select Ok. are you sure
  6. Now remove Macintosh HD from the list using the - sign.

Spotlight should now begin reindexing (which takes a few minutes) and working properly.

Note: Services like CleanMyMac, which I have and find generally useful, are suspected as a cause of issues with Spotlight according to some folks.

Additional resources: SpotlightPrivacyList | MacIssues Spotify doesn’t show up in Spotlight - Apple Community


Stephen Weiss

Thanks for reading! My name's Stephen Weiss. I live in Chicago with my wife, Kate, and dog, Finn.
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