I just reinstalled OS X Lion and turned off the spotlight immediately.

I noticed that search in Finder stopped working. Is this because of disabling spotlight? Is there a way to get this back without turn spotlight on? I only need to search by file names.

  • Take a look at: apps.tempel.org/FindAnyFile
    – Phorce
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 1:12
  • 1
    Yes, finder uses Spotlight, but there are replacements (apps) that can search without it using the Unix command find. Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 1:49
  • I wonder what would happen if you let spotlight index first then shut it off. Just a curiosity. Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 4:42
  • @PaulWalnuts I think then it kind of works. I remember I turned off spotlight before reinstalling, didn't find search wrong...
    – h__
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 6:31

2 Answers 2


Finder's search, as well as many other programs (Alfred, Outlook, etc.) use Spotlight's index files. If you have Spotlight shut off, you won't be able to get Finder search working natively.

There are a few free third party apps that you can use to search for files without using Apple's system:

  1. Find Any File
  2. EasyFind

These two do not use spotlight's index files and should work independently.


Spotlight is a search tool. So it needs an index. And that's what's build when there is a little black dot in the Spotlight icon.

It's like an index on a book. It's hard (if not impossible) to find a word without an index. Finder can't look for files if it has no index.

Once Spotlight has build it's index, Finder will be able to search for files. If you want, you can disable it if you want.
BUT, if you do so, new files won't be added to the index, so you won't be able to find them.

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