I'm having an issue where Spotlight isn't properly showing results for System Preference panels. When I search for a preference panel by name (e.g. Sharing or Network), I don't get any System Preferences results. If I search for "pref", I get a list of preference panes, like this:

spotlight results

Even typing the name as it appears there (e.g. SharingPref.prefPane or a subset thereof) doesn't get a result.

The only exception is that third party preference panes do appear correctly (albeit still with the .prefPane extension.

I've tried forcing a re-index, both by Apple's method, and sudo mdutil -E /, and neither has fixed this behaviour. I don't recall when it started exactly, but I think it may have been ever since getting my new iMac (running 10.8), which was set up via Migration Assistant from my old MBP running 10.7.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix this?

1 Answer 1


I have disabled everything except Applications, Systems Preferences, Contacts, Events & To Dos and Developer. Usually I search for files and documents via Finder. Now it properly shows preferences panes while searching.

Also you can drag categories in Spotlight preferences to change result priority.

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