I am using my notes app on OSX 10.11.5 and iOS 8. For the most part, things are working, but I am noticing that many of my older notes are not searchable. When I type something in the search box, these older notes do not appear in search results even if there is a match. However, if I edit a note or create a new one, it is fully searchable.

My guess is that somehow the search indexes for my notes got corrupted. Is there any way to fix this or rebuild the indexes?

  • Do you have your notes stored locally or on the internet? (iCloud, gmail...) Or maybe they are spread around different places? – Pierobon Jun 3 '16 at 17:12
  • iCloud. Turns out that on my iPhone, the notes show up, so I thought that it would have been a spotlight issue, but when I tried the suggestion below, the search was not fixed. – Andrew Eisenberg Jun 3 '16 at 19:30

If your notes are in iCloud, make a local backup. Then in iCloud settings uncheck Notes. Your Notes will all be removed. Now turn Notes back on. They should all return and this force an index rebuild.

  • Thanks for the idea. Backing up my notes now and seeing if this will work. – Andrew Eisenberg Jun 5 '16 at 21:44
  • 1
    Yep. That did the trick! – Andrew Eisenberg Jun 5 '16 at 22:54

Much quicker way of fixing this is just to make a new iCloud notes folder, move all your notes into that and back again. This seems to rebuild the index- you can then get rid of the new folder. This is useful if like me you don't have a quick option to back up your notes separately.

  • 2
    Worked beautifully. Very simple and elegant solution, thanks. – Dan Mar 15 '17 at 18:28
  • 1
    Agreed. This worked for me on iOS using only my phone. – jlevis Nov 23 '18 at 20:17
  • 1
    I was able to do this on my Mac (I have 1000+ notes) and it was very sluggish when dragging "all" the notes around, but this method did work for me! The currently-accepted answer (toggle notes off/on in iOS iCloud settings) didn't work. – Nick Farina Apr 8 at 16:26
  • Thanks for the tip! This also worked for me on my iPhone. It was the only one of my devices that didn’t seem indexed properly, and surprisingly it was the only one with most recent updates installed. – jsmod Sep 30 at 2:31

You should try reindexing spotlight on your mac. In terminal type sudo mdutil -E / and you will be prompted for your password, this can take some time though depending on your drive speed

  • Thanks. Trying that now. I will let you know if this works. – Andrew Eisenberg Jun 3 '16 at 17:03
  • Hmmm...nope. This did not work. – Andrew Eisenberg Jun 3 '16 at 19:34
  • Are you sure this didn't work? Not doubting your honesty, just curious. I thought it would delete all Spotlight indexes and rebuild. Although, as @levanth suggested, it usually takes quite a while. – Ashley Aitken Mar 28 '17 at 2:48
  • 1
    Had this exact problem and sudo mdutil -E / solved it for me on MacOS Sierra 10.12.5. – udondan Jun 21 '17 at 14:58

Notes are stored in under Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes in your user folder. You can force just the notes to be reindexed by Spotlight using the following command in the Terminal:

mdimport ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes

Tested on macOS 10.11.


I got this when I tried the mdutil:

$ sudo mdutil -E /
    Error: unknown indexing state.

Executing the following, reenabled indexing and search through Apple Notes was resolved:

$ sudo mdutil -E -v -i on /
    Indexing enabled. 
    Scan base time: 2017-05-03 01:14:49 +0000 (2051798 seconds ago), reasoning: 'ScanShadow'

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .