I have been experiencing multiple issues since upgrading to Big Sur.

  • My zsh terminal takes upto 30s to open (never happened before)
  • My Firefox tabs crash when I wake my Mac from sleep
  • Spotlight search is broken (can't search for Apps, docs, anything)

I have tried re-indexing from the Preferences (add whole drive to Spotlight privacy, remove it again). I also re-indexed it from the terminal using:

sudo mdutil -E /


sudo mdutil -i on /

Both these options bring Spotlight back to life temporarily. However, as soon as I restart my machine, I have to do this all over again!

Does anyone know why this is happening and how to fix it?

MacBook details:

  • MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2014)
  • OS: macOS Big Sur Version 11.6.2
  • Processor: 1.4 GHz Dual-Core i5
  • RAM: 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
  • If you clear Spotlight it will take a whole lot longer than 15 minutes to re-index everything. It can take days. I suspect you are having a patience issue. That's also one of the slowest Macs ever & has very little spare RAM… & how full is your main drive? if the drive is very full [more than 100GB on a 128 drive] then all processes will be slowed.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 18:38
  • I am definitely having patience issues. Anyway, besides that the issue is that the whole index is cleared after a restart. I never encountered this before no matter how full my drive was. At the moment have about 125GB free. Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 19:01

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a solution to this problem. Originally when I was updating to Big Sur, I interrupted the installation as it was taking super long and I thought something broke. But I think my interruption might have created this problem in the first place.

I ended up having to format my MacBook Air down to the bone i.e. remove drive partitions, return to OS X Yosemite that the Mac was originally shipped with. I updated to Catalina and will keep it there as Apple discontinued support for my model anyway and I can't even upgrade to Monterey.

Key takeaways:

  1. Don't interrupt MacOS updates (they can take over 6 hours sometimes, let it take its time).
  2. Don't update beyond MacOS Catalina if you have a MacBook Air from before 2015.


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