I can't get Spotlight to search for any documents.

When I search the Finder for documents, nothing happens and the Spotlight search through the menu bar only shows up web searches.

  • onyx solved the prob
    – polyglot
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 21:22
  • 5
    Please post your answer as a real answer below, using the "Answer your question" button. Thanks!
    – slhck
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 21:38

2 Answers 2


Firsts, make sure you have enough free disk space. How much is enough? Well, if you have 10% of the drive free, it should do.

Open Terminal and execute the following commands one after another:

sudo mdutil -i off /
sudo mdutil -E /
sudo mdutil -i on /

Now Spotline should start indexing your drive. This may take hours but you should get search back after it ends.

Before or after you do that, you can check Spotlight status in Terminal using:

sudo mdutil -sv /

Go to System Preferences. Click on Spotlight. Click on Privacy tab. Click "+" to add a privacy location. Select "Macintosh HD" (or whatever you have named your hard drive).

Wait a few minutes and enter System Preferences again. Go to the Spotlight Privacy tab. Select "Macintosh HD" from the privacy list and remove it.

This is a simple way to force Spotlight to re-index your system.

  • Doesn't work on LION 10.8.2. Spot light won't allow me to add my HD to the privacy list. Says I don't have the permissions to do so. So, is there another solution? Or is is different for LION 10.8.2. Anyone else have any solutions?
    – user45665
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 1:34
  • @user45665 you will need to be a local administrator of your computer to do this. If you are then you may have permissions issues with your disk, which you can use Disk Utility to fix.
    – bispymusic
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 14:08
  • @user45665, also just FYI... Lion is 10.7.x and Mountain Lion is 10.8.x. If you have 10.8.2 then you have Mountain Lion. My fix above works going back to (I believe) 10.4.x
    – bispymusic
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 14:09

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