No matter the search term, the search results in the Notes app on macOS are always empty:

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This has been going on for a while. On iOS, the same searches work fine.

I have tried turning off iCloud, restarting, and then turning it on again. Didn't help.

Any ideas how to debug and solve this?

I'm on El Capitan.

  • 1
    Hmm.. Out of curiosity, do things show up properly when you use Spotlight in the menu bar to search? – MacManager Sep 12 '16 at 14:46
  • Notes do not show up. Which is how I found the solution to my problem (posted as answer). I don't use Spotlight and didn't think Notes in-app search would be connected to Spotlight. Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction! – Arthur Sep 12 '16 at 15:08
  • Nice! Yup, most search boxes use our pal Spotlight on the backend. – MacManager Sep 13 '16 at 3:56

@MacManager pointed me in the right direction. The problem was that I had excluded ~/Library/Containers from Spotlight. This is where Notes' data is stored.

I did this years ago way before the "modern" Notes existed and had totally forgotten about it. I wanted to stop Alfred from giving me results from that folder.

Apparently, the Notes app uses the Spotlight index for searching inside the app.


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