Fixing Broken File Search On Your Mac

If you searching your Mac for a file doesn't return the results you expect, then there are several common culprits. You may simply not notice that the scope of the search is limited to the current folder instead of your entire drive. Or, you may have your Spotlight settings set to not look for some files. If there is a more serious problem, you can try re-indexing your Mac to fix broken search results.

Comments: 10 Responses to “Fixing Broken File Search On Your Mac”

    Dee
    1 year ago

    The adding and removing instructions went over my head (around 5.01). Where do you remove it from? And how do you add it again? Copy/paste? Thx, Gary

    1 year ago

    Dee: At 5:01 I’m showing the Privacy part of the Spotlight preferences. At the bottom are + and – buttons. Use the + button to add your Home folder, then select it and use the – button to remove it. You add first (to exclude from the search) and then remove second (to re-include in the search).

    Marcia Byerly
    1 year ago

    Thanks Gary! You just solved one of my pet peeves about having to constantly make my search iCloud instead of something else. There are so many things in Macs that I didn’t know were there or how to use them. Your tutorials are wonderful!

    Tom
    1 year ago

    Awesome! Thank you! Again, you solved a problem area for me!

    Phil Rodokanakis
    1 year ago

    I believe that the Terminal command to rebuild the index is a lot easier than adding and removing a drive to the Spotlight’s privacy preferences.
    sudo mdutil -i on /

    1 year ago

    Phil: It is easier, but it has a few things against it. Not everyone is comfortable using Terminal commands, let alone sudo in the Terminal. Also, Apple’s “official” method is the one I show, which they also show on that web page.

    Nick
    1 year ago

    hi Gary
    I just installed MS Excel on the Mac a couple of days ago and it’s still not showing up in my Spotlight search. I was going to try the add and remove method in the Privacy settings but the shortcut to the Excel app is greyed out and not selectable in that screen. Any suggestions? thx

    1 year ago

    Nick: Searching for Applications is probably different than searching for files and this technique is for files. I would try turning off “Applications” in the Spotlight preferences, and then turning it back on again. Also, maybe a restart.

    Scott Simmerman
    1 year ago

    That finder search window that shows “This Mac” and “This Folder” has space for OTHER folders to be added. I have a couple of folders (Posters and Images to Sort) that I OFTEN and ONLY want to search because I am looking for something specific.

    Is there a way to add these “common default folders” to that Searching window?

    1 year ago

    Scott: No, thats not a customizable toolbar or anything like that. Instead, put those folders in the left sidebar of the Finder window, click on them first, before clicking the Search field and typing. It would be the same number of actions (click, click, type instead of click, type, click).

Comments Closed.