• Apple Mac Pro (early 2009)
  • Firmware 4.1 -> 5.1
  • macOS 10.13.6 beta
  • Alfred 3.6.1

Due to problems with Alfred, I am trying to rebuild my Spotlight index.
I've been advised the following commands should work:

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

sudo mdutil -E -i on /

The last command results in the error message:
Spotlight server is disabled.

Does anyone have any idea how to solve this?


I just fixed my Spotlight index issue a couple days ago with the following commands. Was driving me nuts too.

cd /
sudo mdutil -E /
sudo mdutil -a -i off
sudo rm -fr .Spotlight-V100/
sudo mdutil -i on /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD

I know you tried something similar with Monomeeth guidance but maybe the subtle difference will work for you.

I added the actual Volume directory and Name to the last command since I had some USB drives plugged in that would get indexed otherwise.

I used Alfred for a while too but was happier with Quicksilver so I switched back.

Noticed you are running macOS 10.13.6 beta. Any chance that could be causing an issue? I would have put this as a comment but I don't have the rep yet. :-(

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  • Thanks for the reply, but here is the result... – carlcaulkett Jun 25 '18 at 19:47

It seems you're getting the error because you're trying to turn indexing back on but the system is seeing Spotlight as disabled.

As a first step I would try the following commands in Terminal:

sudo mdutil -Ea
sudo mdutil -ai off
sudo mdutil -ai on


Since you're still getting the Spotlight server is disabled message, I would look for a hidden metadata file in the root directory.

More specifically, have a look at the directory listing for / and see if there is a hidden file labelled .metadata_never_index in the root directory. If so, delete it and try using Terminal again to enable Spotlight.

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  • I typed in each of these commands. The response for each one was: "Spotlight server is disabled." – carlcaulkett Jun 20 '18 at 8:33
  • I also tried running them as root, following a sudo su. That didn't work either. – carlcaulkett Jun 20 '18 at 8:38
  • I've also tried deleting the /.Spotlight-V100 folder. When I carry out the mdutil commands, I see that this folder is recreated albeit with very small files inside. – carlcaulkett Jun 20 '18 at 9:37
  • I've just updated my answer with some additional troubleshooting steps. Hopefully this resolves your issue. – Monomeeth Jun 20 '18 at 22:42
  • Thanks, @Monomeeth. I did a search with the excellent Find Any File and I found 3 occurences: – carlcaulkett Jun 21 '18 at 11:43

I don't know whether this is better or worse, but the way I've always done it is
System Prefs > Spotlight > Privacy

Drop any/all volumes in there, wait a minute, remove them again.
You can check Spotlight is rebuilding by launching it & trying a test search.
You can also see mdworker going nuts for a while, in Activity Monitor.

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  • 3
    When I try to add a folder to the Privacy list I get the error: "Privacy List Error. The item couldn’t be added or removed because of an unknown error." which is less than helpful. Thanks, Apple! – carlcaulkett Jun 20 '18 at 9:34
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    I've recently had so much trouble with Time Machine local snapshots clogging up my APFS SSD that I've had to clone to HFS, nuke & clone back to get rid of the mess... Hope you're not suffering anything similar :/ – Tetsujin Jun 20 '18 at 9:38
  • @Tetsujin, are you storing your Time Machine snapshots/backups to your main startup disk (i.e. /dev/disk0 / Macintosh HD)? Or do you have an additional APFS SSD? – voices Dec 5 '18 at 13:04
  • @tjt263 - yes, it's simply set to defaults in that regard. However, since I updated to Mojave at the first beta, I have had no issues with it at all. High Sierra was a total nightmare; Mojave has fixed just about every issue I ever had with the 2 Sierras. – Tetsujin Dec 5 '18 at 13:07

I tried @joecap5's suggestion but this is what I got...

enter image description here

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