So I want to know what indexing really does, from my understanding it keeps tabs on where all your documents are at. I use spotlight all the time to look for different files or to open programs, and I still want to be able to do this. However, I have a feeling that indexing is killing my SSD.

If I decide to turn it off, what is that going to do for the stability of appfeatures and the OS?


Leave it on.

You use an OS that heavily depends on this, you need to allow it to index.

Yes, it keeps track of where all your documents & data are. After any major OS update it will re-index from scratch; the rest of the time it will just periodically tick away in the background, interfering with nothing and helping a lot of the system.

SSDs are more resilient than people give them credit for. Yes, the more you use it the faster it will wear out, but a bit of file indexing is going to perhaps shorten its life by 20 minutes or so, overall ;-)

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    Could you provide an authoritative reference to the "a bit of file indexing is going to perhaps shorten its life by 20 minutes or so, overall" comment? – user3439894 Dec 22 '16 at 13:02
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    No. It was obviously a joke. You could try work it out from h20195.www2.hp.com/v2/getpdf.aspx/4AA5-7601ENW.pdf?ver=1.0 or similar sources. – Tetsujin Dec 22 '16 at 13:29
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    I know it was a joke, I saw the smilie face... sorry I forgot to put on on mine. :) BTW There is no way of getting a figure that is realistic other then to say it's negligible in the overall life of the SSD as indexing is such a positive thing compared to not using it. – user3439894 Dec 22 '16 at 14:04

I really don't recommend doing to, but if you really need to disable Spotlight/enable Spotlight, you can do so with the following

Disable Spotlight The primary method is using launchctl, this will require the administrative password:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist

Reenable Spotlight The guaranteed way to reenable Spotlight is to reload it into launchd using launchctl:

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
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Yes definitely..My spotlight indexing only runs rarely. If I have a kernel panic reboot or I force a reboot it runs. If software update causes a reboot, I don't think it runs. I never notice it because I don't use it that often. I've found the right combination of shortcuts in my dock so that I probably only use spotlight a couple of times a week now. Spotlight is one of my favorite OS X things. If I want to run any app, all I need to know are a han you can dful of consecutive letters in the name of the app and it comes up almost instantly. Spotlight and quick view are two of my favorite things in OS X. There are only a handful of files quickview doesn't know how to open and I'm never faced with waiting for pages or openoffice.org to load up just to read the contents of an email attachment. On my windows boxes, I always shut off indexing because it is useless. I would never consider shutting off Spotlight indexing because it saves me time every time I use it.

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For High Sierra, I have

/System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist: Operation not permitted while System Integrity Protection is engaged

I have found solution:

  1. Go to Spotlight preferences
  2. Exclude /Volume disk
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  • This is not an answer to the question, OP wants to know what it is that spotlight is doing during indexing, and what would happen if it was switched of – dennismuijs Aug 31 '18 at 10:00
  • Not strictly an answer to the question @dennismuijs, so you are correct – but as usual on SO, a "poor" answer has solved my problem :) Excluded my external SSD drive from Spotlight settings and no more indexing. Perfect! – Dunc Jul 24 '19 at 21:11

It shouldn't affect anything, at least in the short term, as that's all I've had it disabled for. I had to disable it because on this MacBook Air (2011) it was using 50% cpu and causing the machine to freeze up.

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