5 Effective Ways to Fix MDS_Stores High CPU Usage on Mac

The High CPU Usage of MDS_Stores on Mac Here’s How To Lower It

The Metadata Server (MDS) is a core component of Spotlight. It routinely indexes files and data on your Mac to ensure they pop up fast when you look for them. Under normal circumstances, it requires minimal resources. If Activity Monitor says MDS_Stores has a high CPU usage (anything more than 40 percent is pretty suspicious), you might have a corrupted or glitchy Spotlight index.

Your system will start lagging and crashing unless you control this spiked processor load. Here’s what to do.

Quick Tip:

If you’re experiencing high CPU, GPU, or RAM usage on your Mac and cannot fix it, most users recommend trying a trusted optimization app. For instance, Intego Washing Machine offers resource management tools that will help you minimize the risk of slowdowns and ensure a smooth performance.

➡️ Try Intego Washing Machine

How To Fix High CPU Usage of MDS_Stores on Mac

Note icon NOTE
It’s normal for any process to spike in CPU usage from when you run them. Only perform these troubleshooting steps if the Metadata Server is draining your resources consistently, causing noticeable performance issues.

1. Kill the Process Through Activity Monitor

Time needed: 5 minutes

If the Metadata Server is wasting resources, the first course of action is to force quit it through Activity Monitor. Your Mac will automatically restart it afterward. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Launchpad > Activity Monitor, which you’ll find in the Other folder.

    Opening Activity Monitor on Launchpad

  2. Look up MDS_Stores and check the % CPU column—see if it’s still spiking.

    Viewing MDS Stores CPU Usage on a Mac

  3. Select MDS_Stores and click the stop icon (X) at the top of the window.

    Clicking the Stop Icon on Activity Monitor

  4. Restart your Mac, open Activity Monitor, and check % CPU.

2. Run First Aid on Disk Utility

Run First Aid in Disk Utility to check and repair file system errors. Corrupted, glitching data makes it harder for Metadata Server to index files, ultimately spiking CPU usage.

  1. Open Launchpad > Disk Utility, which you’ll find in the Other folder.
  2. Select your startup disk under Volumes in the side navigation pane. It’s likely named Macintosh HD.
    Clicking First Aid Function on Disk Utility
  3. Click First Aid in the window’s toolbar and hit Run to confirm.

3. Reboot in Safe Mode

Safe Mode automatically disables non-essential startup items and third-party extensions. It can help you pinpoint the exact file or function causing your Metadata Server to act up.

Here’s how to launch your Apple Silicon Mac in Safe Mode:

  1. Shut down your Mac and let it rest for a few minutes.
  2. Afterward, press and hold Touch ID or the power button—don’t let go until the Loading Startup Options page appears.
    The Loading Startups Page on Mac
  3. Select the affected volume, which is likely Macintosh HD.
  4. Press and hold the Shift key, select Continue in Safe Mode, and wait for your Mac to reboot.
  5. While in Safe Mode, run First Aid in Disk Utility and kill the MDS_Stores process in Activity Monitor.

Here’s how to launch your Intel-based Mac in Safe Mode:

  1. Shut down your Mac and let it rest for a few minutes.
  2. Press the power button and quickly hold the Shift key before the screen lights up.
  3. Log in to your Admin profile.

4. Log in Through a Guest Account

Try logging in to your Mac using a guest account. If the issue remains, you’re likely dealing with a system-wide problem. Otherwise, limit troubleshooting to your Admin profile.

  1. Click the Apple menu icon > System Settings > Users & Groups.
  2. Select the information icon (i) next to Guest User.
    Toggle Button Allow Guest User on this Mac
  3. Toggle on the button for Allow guests to log in to this computer.
  4. Click the Apple menu icon > Log Out [your Apple ID profile].

5. Factory Reset Your Mac

You can consider performing a factory reset as a last resort. Doing so reverts your Mac to its default state, completely wiping your settings preferences and local files. Hopefully, it also erases whatever is spiking the high CPU usage of MDS_Stores. Just make sure you set up iCloud Backup beforehand; otherwise, you’ll lose your data permanently.

  1. Click the Apple menu icon > System Settings > General.
  2. Open Transfer or Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
    Clicking the Erase All Settings Button on macOS Sonoma
  3. Enter your Admin profile’s password to confirm the action.

Should issues persist, call Apple Support. They’ll check for hardware defects with your Mac’s hard drive or memory modules, both of which are relatively inexpensive to repair. If your logic board is damaged, however, getting a new Mac might surprisingly be the cost-efficient approach.

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