macOS 10.12.6

Spotlight Search, when I start to type, it changes from a single-line text field to the real-time search results.

In the left, between the bar and the "Top Hits" search results, it says "Indexing..." and displays a full horizontal bar.

This never advances (it looks full), and it never finishes.

The search results are not correct since this started happening.

I was suffering from the Safari 12 -> Spotlight Search display disappears while typing problem, and I've turned off the Safari indexing already.

1 Answer 1


When you say "never", how long? Indexing can take hours on a large mechanical hard drive. This is usually required after an OS update.

You can restart and rebuild the Spotlight index, which may help. Either use the Terminal command:

sudo mdutil -E /

(You'll then have to enter your admin password. If you've never done this before, you'll see a short warning about being careful.)

Or go to System Preferences > Spotlight, and in the Privacy tab, drag the system volume to the list of exclusions. Then remove it.

Hanging Spotlight indexes may also be a sign of a failing hard drive, so it's also worth checking that your system volume is functioning correctly.

  • Re "forever": I have a 128GB SSD, and its been like this for about 2 weeks. The computer is plugged in and on for about half the day, so I think it's had enough time to try to finish. I'll try your terminal command and update here...
    – benc
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 17:28
  • It returns: Indexing enabled.
    – benc
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 21:37
  • Yes. But it will delete the old index and start again.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 22:09
  • command line didn't change the problem described, so I am trying the UI steps you provided.
    – benc
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 4:08
  • I'd verify the drive, if I were you.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 9:07

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