How to reindex Spotlight on Mac

Asya Karapetyan
Content marketer, who specializes in Mac how-to guides
October 9, 2023
7 minutes to read

Spotlight usually performs its work perfectly; however, sometimes you may face an issue when the Spotlight search is not working correctly, displaying odd results or stopping the search for items you know exist. In this case, rebuilding the Spotlight index can help you to resolve the issue. Follow our Spotlight troubleshooting guide to learn how to reindex Spotlight on your Mac.


  1. What is Spotlight?
  2. How to rebuild the Spotlight index via System Preferences
  3. How to reindex Spotlight with Terminal
  4. The quickest way to rebuild the Spotlight database

What is Spotlight?

Spotlight is a tremendously useful option provided on macOS that allows you to quickly find any file, document, app, mail, and more, on your Mac. For most users, the Spotlight search is one of the most used macOS features on a daily basis. 

Using Spotlight on Mac is super easy. Simply click the Spotlight icon in the menu bar and type your query in the search field. 

Note, that Spotlight can’t find hidden files on your Mac. For finding and operating hidden files on Mac you can use a special tool from MacCleaner Pro. Also, if you need to rebuild the Spotlight, MacCleaner Pro again can help you. Rebuilding Spotlight index on Mac means resetting search database which can help you fix some issues with Spotlight search results.

How to rebuild the Spotlight index via System Settings

When the Spotlight search is not working on your Mac correctly, try to reindex it via System Preferences.
Here are the steps to rebuild Spotlight index:

  1. Open System Settings.
  2. click Siri & Spotlight in the sidebar.
  3. Scroll down and click Spotlight Privacy.
  4. Add and then remove items from the locations list.
  5. Your Mac will reindex Spotlight.
System settings showing Spotlight window
Note: depending on the volume of your folders or disk you chose, this reindexing Spotlight may take some time. When entering a word for search, you will see the progress bar in the indexing status.

Rebuild the Spotlight database

If you have old operating system installed on your Mac, follow these stesp:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click on the Spotlight icon.
  3. rebuild the spotlight index

  4. Switch to the Privacy tab of Spotlight.
  5. rebuild the spotlight index

  6. Click on the Plus button → select the folders or disks whose index you want to refresh in Spotlight search.
  7. Click the Choose button to add them to the list of locations prevented from being searched by Spotlight. In our case, we added the whole Macintosh HD.
  8. Note: you can also just drag and drop any folder or disk right to this list.

    refresh the spotlight

  9. Then click again on the folder you have just added and click the Minus “” button to remove it from the list of Spotlight search.
  10. spotlight search is not working on your mac

  11. Close System Preferences. After these steps, the Spotlight indexing will be refreshed.

How to reindex Spotlight with Terminal

Another way to rebuild the macOS Spotlight search is to use the command line in Terminal.
Here is how to rebuild the index of Spotlight using the Terminal app:

  1. Open Terminal from Launchpad.
  2. reindex spotlight

  3. Copy and paste the following command into the Terminal window and click the Return key.

    sudo mdutil -i on /

  4. rebuild the index of spotlight

  5. It may ask to enter your admin password. Enter your password and click Return. You will see the message that the indexing of the Spotlight is enabled.
  6. macos spotlight search

The quickest way to rebuild the Spotlight database

Besides the fact that the first two methods of reindexing the macOS search are not time-consuming, there is an even quicker and easier way to perform this task. This is possible with MacCleaner Pro. MacCleaner Pro allows you to fix the Spotlight search and additionally provides a wide range of options to speed up your Mac, clean up your hard drive and fix many other Mac issues.

Here is how to rebuild the Spotlight index with MacCleaner Pro:

  1. Launch MacCleaner Pro.
  2. Switch to the Speed up Mac section and select Reindex Spotlight.
  3. Run the Spotlight reindexing task by clicking the Speed Up button.
  4. MacCleaner showing how to reindex spotlight

That’s all. As we said, with the help of MacCleaner Pro it’s super easy and fast to reindex Spotlight!
Note, with MacCleaner Pro you can also Reindex your Mail.

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