I recently bought a new hard drive and it is not indexed by Finder. I tried to get it re-indexed by following this tutorial: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13727_7-10330114-263.html and I even tried something with commands in the terminal, no luck to get it indexed.

My previous external hard drives (Western Digital SE Elements) that crashed were indexed, but I was using Leopard and Snow Leopard back then.

I am using a Macbook pro 13" mid-2009 edition and my external drive is a 500Gb Toshiba Stor.E Canvio.

Does it have to do that I uninstalled software I used back then on Leopard to be able to read NTFS drives?

  • What does diskutil list show for that drive?
    – bmike
    Dec 2, 2012 at 17:21
  • This is what it shows: /dev/disk1 #: TYPE NAME SIZE IDENTIFIER 0: FDisk_partition_scheme *500.1 GB disk1 1: Windows_NTFS TOSHIBA EXT 500.1 GB disk1s1
    – esmitex
    Dec 2, 2012 at 20:24

2 Answers 2


From the Terminal application type the following:

mdutil -s /Volumes/<your_disk_name>/

If indexing is disabled you will get something like that:

Indexing disabled. 

You can turn it on by typing (it will request your password):

sudo mdutil -i on /Volumes/<your_disk_name>/

Now erase all the existing entries in the index for that drive (if any):

mdutil -E /Volumes/<your_disk_name>/

Check that indexing has been enabled:

mdutil -s /Volumes/<your_disk_name>/

If indexing is enabled you will get something like that:

Indexing enabled. 

Now just reboot your system or wait some minutes until Finder begins the indexing.

  • It works like a charm.
    – xhg
    Mar 29, 2017 at 14:45
  • search.brave.com of "mac finder search can't find files on external drive" yields the 5th entry (3rd in the discussions--not this thread but) forums.macrumors.com/threads/… which offers you to add the drive to the spotlight privacy and remove it, presumably to trigger macos to re-index it. But then, searching "how to reindex spotlight on mac on external drive" this thread was chosen as the brave sidebar answer and was for me the 4th hit (2nd in discussions). These commands are so much more direct if you're comfortable with the terminal. Thanks. May 31, 2023 at 1:34

Esmitex, kindly try the following steps:

  1. From the Apple () menu, choose System Preferences.
  2. Click Spotlight.
  3. Click the Privacy tab.
  4. Drag a folder or an entire volume (your hard drive) to the list.
  5. If prompted for confirmation, click OK.
  6. Remove the item or volume you just added to the list by clicking it and then clicking the minus ("-") button.
  7. Close Spotlight preferences.
  8. Spotlight will re-index the contents of the folder or volume.

If the steps mentioned above does not work, try downloading this supplemental update for Mountain Lion and repeat the steps above.


Hope this helps...

  • Tried your solution and it didn't work on Mac OS X 10.10. But Georges solution worked like a charm.
    – politicus
    Nov 6, 2016 at 10:06
  • I can't do this because I am not allowed to add a Time Machine–designated backup drive to the privacy list. Do you know how to mark a disk as not a backup disk so that Time Machine will free it?
    – jdc
    Jun 28, 2017 at 21:05

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