Rebuilding Spotlight’s Database

| Tips

Picture this: You need to find a document on your hard drive, but canit remember where it is. "No problem," you think, "Iill just fire up Spotlight and find it in a couple of seconds." Except that Spotlight canit find the file, even though itis found it before. Sounds like your Spotlight database needs to be rebuilt.

Luckily, forcing Spotlight to rebuild its hidden database is easy, and you donit have to buy any special software. Hereis how:

  • Launch System Preferences. Youill find it hiding in the Apple menu.
  • Select the Spotlight PreferencePane.
  • Click the Privacy tab.
  • Drag your hard drive into the Prevent Spotlight from searching these locations list.

  • Add your hard drive to Spotlightis Privacy list to delete the corrupt database.
  • Quit and relaunch System Preferences.
  • Go back to the Privacy tab in the Spotlight PreferencePane.
  • Select your hard drive.
  • Click the minus button at the bottom of the list.


Remove your hard drive from the Privacy list to let Spotlight rebuild the database.

Adding your hard drive to the Privacy list not only prevents Spotlight from searching it, but it also deletes the database it has already created. Removing your hard drive from the list lets Spotlight build a new database without any of the corruption that the original had.

Keep in mind that Spotlight canit properly search your hard drive while it is rebuilding its database. Depending on the number of documents you have, that could take several hours or more.


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