I know this question has been asked before, but the solutions suggested are not working for me.

I just finished attaching a brand new external hard-drive and waiting for 14 hours for Time Machine to finish backing it up. Now, I cannot eject the drive. I get this error:

enter image description here

I don't want to "Force Eject..." because the last time I did that it destroyed the file system in a fashion that it could not be repaired. Thus the need for new external hard drive.

It seems like Spotlight indexing is the culprit here:

$sudo lsof | grep /Volumes/Backup/
mds          64           root   21r      DIR                1,7       2108  3347098 /Volumes/Backup/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/26061632-2165-4372-BACA-B77080B37A25
mds          64           root   24u      REG                1,7          0  3347143 /Volumes/Backup/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/26061632-2165-4372-BACA-B77080B37A25/journalExclusion
mds_store   310           root  txt       REG                1,7          8  3347107 

I have tried adding my Backup drive to the Spotlight privacy list. This is apparently supposed to take effect immediately. But it does not.

enter image description here

When I try to stop it using the command-line, here's what happens:

mdutil -v -a -s
    Indexing disabled.
2015-12-06 14:53:51.707 mdutil[11654:1215293] Metadata.framework [Error]: mdsCopyStoreAttributes failed: (8) (os/kern) no access
    No index.
    Indexing and searching disabled.
    Indexing enabled. 
    Scan base time: 1970-01-01 00:00:01 +0000 (1449442430 seconds ago), reasoning: '(null)'

also tried this ...

$sudo mdutil -i off -d -E /Volumes/Backup/Backups.backupdb/
2015-12-06 16:42:53.210 mdutil[11822:1237806] mdutil disabling Spotlight: /Volumes/Backup/Backups.backupdb -> kMDConfigSearchLevelOff
    Indexing enabled. 

$sudo lsof | grep /Volumes/Backup/
mds          64            root   14r      DIR                1,7       1972  3359270 /Volumes/Backup/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/26061632-2165-4372-BACA-B77080B37A25
mds          64            root   22u      REG                1,7          0  3359315 /Volumes/Backup/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/26061632-2165-4372-BACA-B77080B37A25/journalExclusion
mds_store   310            root  txt       REG                1,7          8  3359279 /Volumes/Backup/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/26061632-2165-4372-BACA-B77080B37A25/0.indexIds

also tried killing the spotlight processes ...

$ps -ax | awk '/[m]ds/{print $1}'
$sudo kill 64
$sudo kill 310
$sudo lsof | grep /Volumes/Backup/
backupd   11828            root    4w      REG                1,7       1453  3359329 /Volumes/Backup/Backups.backupdb/Alex’s MacBook Pro/2015-12-06-164406.inProgress/.Backup.471141846.204163.log
backupd   11828            root    6w      REG                1,7 1780482048  3366847 /Volumes/Backup/Backups.backupdb/Alex’s MacBook Pro/2015-12-06-164406.inProgress/88F84A3D-497C-4059-99AE-BF8C3C91534C/Macintosh HD/Users/alexryan/VirtualBox VMs/boot2docker-vm/boot2docker-vm.vmdk
mds       11849            root   12r      DIR                1,7       2108  3359270 /Volumes/Backup/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/26061632-2165-4372-BACA-B77080B37A25
mds       11849            root   17u      REG                1,7          0  3359315 /Volumes/Backup/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/26061632-2165-4372-BACA-B77080B37A25/journalExclusion

Is there any way that I can safely eject my external hard drive without destroying the file system again?

I am running OS X 10.11.1 on a Macbook Pro (Mid-2010).
The external drive is:
Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Portable External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup USB 3.0

I was a little nervous about killing the spotlight process because I wasn't sure if it would cleanly close the files it had opened before shutting down. I didn't want to corrupt my file system again.

Directly killing the processes did not work. They just came back to life again with new process ids.

However, using launchctl did work. I was able to eject the drive. And it looks like my file system did not get corrupted.

$sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
$ps -ax | awk '/[m]ds/{print $1}'
$sudo lsof | grep /Volumes/Backup/
  • By the way, you can take screenshots of individual windows by pressing Command-Shift-4, pressing the spacebar, and clicking on the window that you want to take a screenshot of. It's faster and looks much cleaner than the other way. Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 2:21
  • Could this in any way be related to the phenomenon (new to me since getting my new iMac Pro, running 11.1) whereby the TM icon in Locations in the Sidebar seems to spin for many minutes (hours?) after each TM backup has completed - in my case always quickly and successfully: ![TM icon spins indefinitely](i.sstatic.net/u5tH9.png)
    – MarkSealey
    Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 21:46

1 Answer 1


Have you tried disabling spotlight on the device per terminal command?

Something like sudo mdutil -i off -d -E <mountpoint> to disable indexing, searches and to erase spotlight caches on the drive.

According to your output /Volumes/Backup has it disabled but /Volumes/Backup/Backups.backupdb hasn't, it may make a difference to run the command with that mountpoint.

Another solution suggested here is to stop the spotlight process entirely. You could do this with kill <procid> or launchctl. You can re-start it after ejecting the drive.

(The procid for the kill command is the one in the second column of your lsof results, or you can alternatively use use ps -ax | awk '/[m]ds/{print $1}' to get the procids for mds and mds_store.)

  • tried both of these suggestions. added the results above.
    – Alex Ryan
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 0:52
  • 1
    This worked: sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
    – Alex Ryan
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 1:06
  • Great to hear @AlexRyan!
    – Appleshell
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 1:12

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