Is there a way to tell Apple's content indexer to ignore a folder and its children by creating a file (similar to robots.txt) in the root of the folder to be ignored?

I don't want the folder to be listed in the privacy pane of system preferences since that's the first place someone who knows would go to look for "private" files.

Benefits of NOT using the system-preference panel:

  • More transportable - an ignore setting in an external drive that moves between computers would be easier to maintain
  • More private - listing a file to be ignored in a preference panel is hardly private

Is there a way to use a (slightly-more-stealthy .spotlight) settings file?

** edit **

Yes, I realize that this isn't a perfect solution, but it's good enough for my purposes.

  • 4
    possible duplicate of How can I make spotlight ignore certain file types and directories?
    – D.W.
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 18:51
  • @D.W. I'm voting to keep this open. The linked question is great for the typical - I'm OK with the GUI but this focuses on alternative manners. Merging them would seem bad to me on first look.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 20:11
  • @bmike, I'm not following what you mean by "alternative manners". Can you elaborate? Don't the answers there answer this question? Isn't that the definition of a duplicate? Anyway, in the grand scheme of things it's obviously not a big deal, but I personally don't understand the reasoning at the moment.
    – D.W.
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 20:29
  • @D.W. Like it says - anything but the top voted/accepted answer in the other question is "alternate means"
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 20:57
  • Security by (even more) obscurity, much? Spotlight is the least of your concerns when somebody wants to look for hidden files…
    – bjb568
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 0:26

3 Answers 3


This answer to How can I make spotlight ignore certain file types and directories? appears have the solution:

$ touch .metadata_never_index

Rename the containing folder to end with .noindex


You can tell Spotlight to ignore a folder, but not by creating a file. In the System Preferences Spotlight pane select the Privacy tab and add the folder to the list of folders to not be indexed.

  • 1
    I'm aware of this. If you list the folder in the local, then it's not very private.
    – craig
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 15:25
  • 1
    @craig, of course, if people are already on your system and trying to find your hidden files, I would think that running find . -type f \( -name "*.metadata_never_index" \) would only be marginally harder than digging into the spotlight preferences privacy tab.
    – KyleMit
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 18:48

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