I need to search some words in many PDF documents. It worked very well when I searched over old documents but my OS X has not indexed yet the new PDFs. How can I search over the new PDFs?

  • Are you certain that these PDFs are searchable? If they're just images, OSX will not be able to index their contents. Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 0:25
  • Is there something else that can be added to refine this question or answer?
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 23:26
  • @bmike I don't know -- I think the search is not working because I don't have enough space for indexing. I think I have to upgrade my harddrive, all the time getting the space is full alarm (so cannot test this) -- Preview-search works inside PDF after merging all PDFs but finder-search is not working (too much thing or not enough space for index apparently or too little RAM).
    – hhh
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 23:32
  • If you've been low on space since December, you might have some serious problems. If you can free up 10 GB and reboot into safe mode, that would be a great thing to rule out in this case.
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 23:47
  • @bmike I think it started working now at least for the time being, I moved my iPhoto-Library to my Backup disk and got extra 5GB on my startup disk. OSX somehow cuts features if you have little strorage space. Thank you for your help.
    – hhh
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 12:27

2 Answers 2


Spotlight indexes are updated when a file is written, so results should be available within milliseconds of the write operation being finished.

Delays in finding a search result are due to a slow or problematic index or a failure of the scanner to complete that file.

You'll need to diagnose spotlight or perhaps just rebuild your index around the folder if you have problems with the subsystem. It's hard to know what of the three causes is happening without someone who knows how things work poking at the system.

  • How can I rebuild the index around the folder? Ok, have to do some research...googling or have to ask my Apple guru friend next week :)
    – hhh
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 23:29
  • 1
    Add that folder to spotlight privacy in the system preference pane. Then remove it.
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 1:50
  • +1 I think this could be a solution to some, still trying to solve my case -- hardly using spotlight because it is so slow and usually not working, taking time to debug.
    – hhh
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 23:33

As an alternative to Spotlight, you can index your PDFs in apps like DevonThink, iDocument or FingerPDF to search faster in your collection of PDFs.

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