How to reset Spotlight

Spotlight, introduced in OS X Tiger 10.4, is Apple’s built-in system-wide search. You can access it from the magnifying glass in the top right corner of your screen, or from the search bar of many Spotlight-enabled programs such as Mail and Calendar. Spotlight is a quick and easy way to find an email, document, song, contact, and more. Except when it doesn’t find something you know is there. Yes, occasionally, it messes up and you will need to rebuild the index to get it going again.

The short instructions: in System Preferences > Spotlight > Privacy, add your hard drive and then remove it. There is no need to apply any settings or close the window because changes happen instantly. That’s it!

The long instructions:

  1. Go to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Spotlight on the first row > the Privacy tab.
  2. Click the plus button near the bottom of the window.
  3. From the file chooser window that pops up, click the drop down for the current folder in the button bar. By default it is probably  your username.
  4. From the dropdown menu choose your computer name.
  5. Click to highlight your hard drive (probably “Macintosh HD” unless you’ve changed it).
  6. Click the Choose button.
  7. Confirm that your hard drive is showing up in the list of locations that Spotlight is prevented from searching. It should look something like the image below.
  8. Click to highlight your hard drive.
  9. Click the minus button below the list.

Spotlight Reset