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Spotlight has stopped showing any results for my Applications. I've tried reindexing and removing the index so it rebuilds it. No change. I've tried adding Applications to the Privacy tab and removing it, no change. I tried repairing disk permissions and redoing the above, no change. I've tried removing everything from the index except Applications and then I just get nothing for any search at all (except dictionary entries). I tried adding a symlink in my homedir to Applications and reindexing, but no change.

Any ideas on what to do? I'm running Snow Leopard. This is driving me crazy!

Update: I've noticed that when I start a reindex with sudo mdutil -E / and then immediately do a Spotlight search for an app that the app shows up temporarily until Spotlight gets disabled due to active indexing. After the indexing is done, the app entries go away.

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Just a quick check: have you gone into system preferences and gone into the spotlight tab and customised the search results tab? In that tab you can check which items will be shown in spotlight. If applications are checked, make sure the applications directory is in the right place and send me the location – Jamesg Sep 1 '12 at 9:27
yes, it's checked, listed first in the list, and is in /Applications – mix Sep 1 '12 at 9:35
Could that be related to…? – pstadler Sep 16 '13 at 13:09

Loading the metadata plist worked for me:

Turn off spotlight:

sudo mdutil -a -i off

Unload it:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

Load It:

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

Turn on spotlight again:

sudo mdutil -a -i on

Now everything is being reindexed as expected.

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Loading metadata plist worked like a charm. Except I didn't have any metadata when I did it which I think was causing my issue. I skipped to the 'Load It' section and now it works like a charm thanks man! – user92938 Sep 30 '14 at 3:11
@JustAnil +1. your answer fixed the issue I had with Mac App Store showing updates for uninstalled apps. Thanks. – Dipak G. Nov 19 '14 at 6:48
if after sudo mdutil -a -i on indexing is still disabled please look at this answer – Camilo Sanchez Aug 13 '15 at 3:36
Thanks Anil! Worked like a charm :) – Rahul Soni Dec 11 '15 at 4:55

Have you tried removing the spotlight.plist in your user preferences. Similar problem with 10.7.5 and re-indexing wouldn't work until I moved the spotlight.plist to the desktop to be safe and then did a sudo mdutil -E / If that works you can delete the old .plist file.

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Had this issue and nothing worked until I rebuilt the index using this in the Terminal:

sudo mdutil -E -i on /

As an alternative you can also use a free app called Alfred which has a lot more features.

(I'm not affiliated with Alfred in anyway)

Hope this helps!

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