I am using spotlight search on my MacBook, and am excluding a few folders from spotlight search. My problem with Apple's method of excluding the folders is that excluding them actually calls attention to them. If I let a friend use my computer or something, and they happen to end up in that preference pane, all they have to do to go to the folders is double click on them.

I tried this tip, however it seems not to work under OSX Lion.

Also, please don't tell me to just log out, or lock my computer when I am away. That is something I have made a habit of doing, however I still allow people to use my account (browse iTunes, etc.).

3 Answers 3


First things first.

The best way to go about securing data that you want accessible to yourself but not others while still allowing them to access the remainder of the account's data is to opt-in the data to a segregated location.

The best option is to set aside a disk image or disk partition for any files that you want segregated. FileVault does a very good job of this while maintaining integration on a low level (compared to other encryption options like TrueCrypt). On my machine I have a specific partition called "Vault" that contains anything that could get me or my company in trouble if it fell into anyone in particular's hands. Using these methods, you don't even need to add the folder to the Spotlight exclusion list in order to remove it. To prevent others from accessing the drive, simply unmount it. Spotlight will see that the disk is missing and exclude the data from search results.

You can also maintain TimeMachine integration by using the partitioning method. Using TimeMachine with the disk image method will result in a full backup of the disk image every time a backup is initiated and anything on the disk has been changed.

Here are the tools you'll need to emulate my example above:

And should you choose to go the disk image route:

  • I am aware of both of these options, however the nature of my data doesn't warrant such measures.
    – finiteloop
    Apr 11, 2012 at 16:41
  • Perhaps you can articulate specifically what about this solution doesn't work for you.
    – zwerdlds
    Apr 11, 2012 at 18:22
  • It doesn't answer my question of how to hide the privacy tab. It requires far more overhead when I do need to access those files. Hiding the privacy tab is the best of both worlds: files are easy to get to if you know where to look, and near impossible if you dont.
    – finiteloop
    Apr 11, 2012 at 18:54
  • 2
    @segfault Please see this note on the "XY Problem" on SO Meta, to wit: zwerdlds is trying to solve the larger problem (private files on a shared account) rather than your chosen solution (which may not be possible).
    – Dan J
    Apr 12, 2012 at 20:43
  • 1
    anandtech.com/show/4485/back-to-the-mac-os-x-107-lion-review/18 The general consensus I've always heard and experienced with FileVault has been that (SSD's notwithstanding) there's basically no performance hit.
    – zwerdlds
    Apr 12, 2012 at 21:08

Files in system directories like ~/Library/ aren't included in normal Spotlight results, so another workaround could be to just move the folders and remove them from the privacy tab.


Instead of including the folders in the Privacy tab, you can append .noindex to their names. This will keep them from appearing in Spotlight results without calling attention to them in the Privacy pane, and without requiring you to reorganize your file system.


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