I updated my Mac from Snow Leopard 10.6.8 to Lion. Everything went well. The computer restarted when the OS setup finished. Now, Spotlight setup has been running for more than two hours. Is something wrong? In the meantime, I can't open the App Store or Software Update.

  • 1
    That's long. How many disks do you have, with how much data? Try adding your drives from the spotlight ignore list (go to System Preferences -> Spotlight and click on privacy). Spotlight should stop. Then remove them again. Aug 2, 2011 at 13:17
  • How many files and how many GB full is your drive? Our full drives with many files are taking around 10 hours on all but the fastest macs. Others with no user files take around as long as the install itself took. (8 to 35 minutes)
    – bmike
    Aug 2, 2011 at 14:05
  • Yeah, it will all depend on how big your drive is, how full it is, and if you have any other drives attached to your computer. I would let it sit overnight. It should be done after sitting that long.
    – daviesgeek
    Sep 1, 2011 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


First off - Spotlight works incrementally as you write any data to the drive. This processing has filters and pattern detectors that extract information from files and store those "nuggets" in a database structure that allows spotlight to find things.

Lion changed the filters, so your old database is now out of date. The entire hard drive has now to pass through the changed filters one time. The first pass could be done in about the same time as the install took if you have nothing on the mac.

It's hard to know what type of files you have - as spotlight will take a lot longer to index a 5 MB text file than it will a 5 MB music file. Using the mac will slow down the updating, so many people turn off spotlight after an upgrade and let it do the entire drive scan over night or when you are away from the Mac so it can just do that one task without slowing you down.

I would say most macs that can run Lion should be done indexing in 12 hours unless there are problems. Those problems usually have messages in the console log (/var/log/system.log) - but it's probably just something you need to wait out.

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