Check out How To Rebuild the Spotlight Index on Your Mac at YouTube for closed captioning and more options.
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In my case Spotlight refuses to work with a disk that is connected to a Windows computer and which I'm accessing through SMB:// on local network. I tried to add and remove that disk from the Privacy list but Spotlight still ignores everything there.
This actually used to work but stopped with the latest OS update. The same update also caused the external disk getting disconnected every time my Mac went to sleep (so I have to CMD+K in Finder every morning), maybe that's connected somehow?
mangguo: I'm surprised it ever worked in that situation. After all, the drive is formatted for Windows, and controlled by Windows, and it would be Windows that would be responsive for answering any network requests to list or search for files on that drive over the network. Are you sure it was spotlight indexed? Or was it just that you could search it before? Anyway, I can't help you much there. As you can imagine I don't have a Windows machine to on my network to test this with.
Differences between Spotlight and the “Finder” Find are baffling. Neither can search a flash drive. Searching system files in any Library folder is mostly blocked like Prefs, Desktop Pictures, or Application Support. No way to set Find to include system files by default. But it WILL include confusing duplicate PDFs buried in Mail Downloads folders. The clunky Spotlight Privacy add/remove doesn't always start mdworker process and iCloud searches are hit/miss too.
Thanks so much Gary, my Finder Recent folder was mysteriously empty so, after watching an earlier MacMost video on searching, I added a .savedSearch folder for all files modified in the last week. After rebuilding the Spotlight index the Recent folder is working as it should.