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Troubleshooting Spotlight Search Issues on Mac

Spotlight Search on Mac computers is a very convenient tool you can use to easily access contacts, documents, applications, etc. This article contains tips you can use to troubleshoot issues you’re having with Spotlight Search. Before trying the following steps, restart your Mac. This may be a quick fix to the problem. If that doesn’t work, try the steps below.

This article will cover two strategies to solve Spotlight Search issues. You can rebuild the Spotlight index using either System Preferences or the Terminal App. The other option would be restarting the SystemUIServer process.


Rebuild Using System Preferences

One way to fix the Spotlight index is through your Mac’s System Preferences. Follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Apple menu.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Select Spotlight.
  4. Go into the Privacy tab.
  5. Click the + button in the bottom left corner.
  6. Add a folder or whatever content you think Spotlight is having trouble locating. (e.g., Macintosh HD)
  7. You will be asked if you want to prevent Spotlight from searching for this. Click OK.
  8. Click the Remove button to remove it from the list.

This will cause Spotlight to re-index all the data from whatever folder or other content you chose, like Macintosh HD.


Rebuild Using Terminal

The rebuilding process can also be completed using the Terminal app. Complete the following instructions:

  1. Launch the Terminal app, found in Applications > Utilities.
  2. Type or copy and paste the following command into the Terminal app:

sudo mdulti -E /

This command will erase and rebuild the Spotlight index.

  1. To apply the command, press Enter.
  2. You may be asked to enter an administrator password.


Restart SystemUIServer

If you tried the previous strategies and neither resolved the issue, you can reset your Mac’s SystemUIServer. This is a process that runs in the background on your Mac, which controls several aspects of macOS software. Restarting the SystemUIServer can solve issues with Spotlight Search.

  • Open Activity Monitor, under Applications > Utilities.
  • Locate “SystemUIServer.”
  • Double-click it, then click Quit.
  • macOS will automatically restart the process on its own in a few moments.
  • Check if Spotlight Search is working.


Adjusting Search Results

If you are unsatisfied with the search results Spotlight gives you, you can customize your Spotlight settings. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences, Spotlight, then go to the Search Results tab.


None of the steps worked. What do I do?

If the steps in this article did not solve your Spotlight Search issues, you may want to consider reaching out to Apple directly. They will be able to further assist you.


To close, Spotlight Search can be a very convenient tool, but it can be frustrating when it is having issues. Try and follow all the steps in this article to try and resolve the problem. If none of these strategies worked, don’t hesitate to reach out to Apple Support. They will be able to help you pinpoint the issue and find a solution.

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