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
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 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. Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 19:30

7 Answers 7


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. Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 21:44
  • 1
    Yep. That did the trick! Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 22:54
  • 1
    I tried this, and also the suggestion below (13 upvotes). Nothing works for me. :(
    – Ugur
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 20:22
  • @Ugur now that much time has passed, did you find any solution to this? Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 19:06
  • I moved to other note taking apps.
    – Ugur
    Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 8:45

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
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 18:28
  • 1
    Agreed. This worked for me on iOS using only my phone.
    – jlevis
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 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. Commented Apr 8, 2019 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
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 2:31
  • Terrible solution! Be very careful if you use folders. I had a lot of folders with subfolders and after doing this step, all 2500 notes are in one folder now. Also, it is not possible to move notes back to Also iCloud folder. Also, remember to use the "option" key when dragging-dropping to create a copy, instead of moving the original if that is your intention.
    – Eduard
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 6:46

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.

  • 1
    This is probably the best answer for those not using iCloud. For me, the search function on Mac Notes had stopped working completely, it could not find any matches at all. This fixed the problem instantly, took like 2 seconds. I'm on macOS Sierra 10.12.6 btw.
    – chiappa
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 10:24
  • 1
    @Miles can this method fix the problem of loading all notes on iphone 7 plus running ios 10.2.1 without icloud ?My iphone notes app stopped loading all my notes however i can search for them from home screen but doesn't load them on notes app when i tap them from home screen search result.It shows endless loading animation on top of notes screen. Hope you can help me thanks Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 21:23

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. Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 17:03
  • Hmmm...nope. This did not work. Commented Jun 3, 2016 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. Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 2:48
  • 1
    Had this exact problem and sudo mdutil -E / solved it for me on MacOS Sierra 10.12.5.
    – udondan
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 14:58

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'

For me

sudo mdutil -E -v -i on /

not working then I have to Logout and Sign in again. it's fine now.

  • That was it for me as well: the terminal command, sign out, sign in. All other solutions didn't work
    – brainray
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 20:34

It appears to reindex when you view a note. I just clicked on my first note and used the down arrow to iterate through all my notes.

  • I experienced the opposite. App or index in some state where, I viewed a note containing the key word I'd searched for, searched for the note, and had no results.
    – mcint
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 21:43
  • Even after reimporting from iCloud
    – mcint
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 21:53

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