For the second time in a relatively short period I am having issues with the search function on my macbook.

Whether in spotlight, Mail app, or Finder search results return nothing. If I reboot the search works fine again. Unfortunately this now seems to be a recurring problem. It's also a recent problem that I never had before, first noted it a few weeks ago.

Macbook on macOS Sierra 10.12.3.

Any one has this experience? What could it be? How can I prevent it or fix it, without having to restart everytime?

-- edit --

Following the feedback in the comments, I ran Disk Utility. Disk utility indicates there are errors but doesn't seem to repair them. Final message in DU: "file system check exit code is 8" I have already tried to reindex Spotlight, that didn't solve the problem.

  • I would first check verify the disk, and, if needed repair the disk. Follow instructions in this link: support.apple.com/en-us/HT201639 Then, you could do a re-index for spotlight. Follow this link on how to do that: support.apple.com/en-us/HT201716
    – Jules
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 7:50
  • What size is your system drive and how much free space do you have? Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 21:24
  • 128GB, about 6GB free space Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 6:32
  • fwiw, spotlight and mail stopped searching emails when my disk became full (I was getting regular system popups untill I cleaned out a few things)
    – drevicko
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 13:55
  • Also, solutions here didn't work ):
    – drevicko
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


I can also confirm that if you run out of disk space Apple Mail spotlight can become unusable. My solution is slightly left field but has the advantage of being utterly reliable - rather than trying to rebuild OSX spotlight or force mail to reindex mail, I instead archive mail into EagleFiler (https://c-command.com/eaglefiler/). EagleFiler maintains its own separate search index so is unaffected by system spotlight issues which I find difficult and time consuming to resolve. Double clicking a mail message in EagleFiler will open it (and any attachments) in Mail.

  • E.g. I just archived 28k messages to EagleFiler, which took 5 minutes to archive, and progress window now indicates Spotlight indexing of added content will be complete in 14 minutes. Compare this with trying to rebuild/restore Spotlight in Mail...
    – rodneyt
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 0:21

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