Mac Spotlight not working? How to fix

A Spotlight is an in-built search system used to find and open applications and different types of files. It holds several internet browsing options. This feature is popular among Mac users but lately, there are cases of Mac spotlight not working.

Some of the glitches experienced include;

  • Inaccurate results
  • Unable to find files
  • No results shown after a query is entered or no response at all.

Some of these problems are as a result of a system upgrade or update. In some cases, the upgrade led to Mac Spotlight indexing for storage.  Luckily, there are several ways you can the rebuild Spotlight index and other options to troubleshoot Spotlight problems.

How to fix Mac Spotlight search

Follow these steps to fix the Mac spotlight index:

Force Spotlight re-indexing

Use this method if the re-indexing procedure does not show the messages or progress bar. With this method, you can confirm from the Activity Monitor if Spotlight is still running the process or force Spotlight to re-index.

  • Open Finder to launch the Activity Monitor then go to the Applications folder.
  • Open Utilities and run the app
  • A new window will pop up then type ‘mdworker’ in the search field.
  • The Activity Monitor will show all Spotlight related re-indexing processes
  • The list will establish the re-indexing process was operating
  • When there are no active processes in the Activity Monitor attempt to use Spotlight once more.

The entire process might consume time depending on the number of files kept in selected folders.

Close System UI Server

This process is easy and quick and often solves Mac spotlight not working related issues.

  • Open Finder and go to the application folder to start Activity Monitor.
  • Go to utilities and select Activity Monitor
  • Look for SystemUISever in the window that shows up. You can also use the search field to find it fast.
  • Select the process and click the quit process tab.

When you close the process, the menu bar and dock will appear after a few minutes

Once they reload, it’s an indication the process is reset. Check if you have clear spotlight cache.

Change desktop resolution

This solution is effective when the search form does not appear with the highlighted Spotlight menu icon.

  • Go to Mac’s System Preference and open Display
  • Select a resolution less than the current value.
  • 640 x 480 should always work
  • Once you change the resolution, return to the original resolution so that you screen display to return to its original form.

Now, test and see if Spotlight search not working on Mac.

Use Disk Utility to check startup disk

Disk utility has diagnostic tools, which are convenient to rebuild Spotlight index. In most cases, this tool is enough to solve Mac spotlight issues. To use it;

  • Restart your Mac to enter the recovery mode.
  • Immediately you hear the startup ring, hold down Command and R until macOS Utilities come into sight.
  • From the prompted menu, select the Disk Utility the select the startup disk.
  • Click the First Aid icon at the top of the screen
  • Press Run to start the repair tool which will check and repair the disk

If First Aid reports that not all errors were fixed, start over again. Repeat the above process several times.

Lastly, reboot your Mac and check if the Spotlight Search is working.

Adjust Spotlight Preferences

Ensure Spotlight preferences right especially if you can’t find the desired results.

  • Open Mac’s System Preference and select Spotlight
  • Review the Search Results tab and ensure all required results are authorized via the checkbox beside each title.
  • Open the privacy tab and ensure Spotlight isn’t excluding required applications or folders.
  • Click + (Add) if everything seems correct then select the startup disk or any other folder for which results aren’t showing in the Spotlight search. Besides, you can drag and you want to be re-indexed into the list and concur with the warning texts.
  • Once you select the disk or all folders, click to select them and click the Remove (-) tab at the bottom of the list

Now, quit the System preference and Spotlight will launch the re-indexing process for the listed drive.

We hope if you have an issue with Mac Spotlight not working, you can now troubleshoot with much ease.

Read: How to hide desktop icons on Mac