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
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    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.

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    Worked beautifully. Very simple and elegant solution, thanks. – Dan Mar 15 '17 at 18:28
  • Agreed. This worked for me on iOS using only my phone. – jlevis Nov 23 '18 at 20:17
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    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

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
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    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

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'

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.

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