Spotlight Sierra No Results

deke

Registered
I am losing my mind. New iMac that came with Sierra install. Running 10.12.4, 1 TB SSD with only about 300 GB. Spotlight has been quirky at best since day one, but now with almost every search I get "no results." A fair number of search results show I am not quite alone. This includes my own name, contacts I know exist, file names I know exist and just about everything. System Prefs look good and I have almost everything selected under Spotlight. I tried the old Privacy trick to exclude a directory then remove it from the Privacy section. That is supposed to force Spotlight to reindex, but if I click on Spotlight, it says nothing about indexing. Isn't it supposed to? I tried Clean My Mac's Spotlight reindexing function and got the oh so helpful message:

Spotlight reindex initiated
Your search should work better after this background process finishes


Again, I try a Spotlight search and no mention of it indexing.

If I type this to check status of indexing:
mdutil -s Macintosh\ HD

I get:
/:
Indexing disabled.


Huh?

So, I tried this to start indexing:
sudo mdutil -i on Macintosh\ HD

Now it is indexing! Did the same for two other volumes.

My question(s) please.
How might have indexing get disabled?
Should indexing work normally from now on, or is there something I need to do?
 
Last edited:

DeltaMac

Tech
If you remove the hard drive by adding it to the privacy tab of the Spotlight pref pane, then that removes the spotlight database, and effectively disables spotlight.
You have to re-enable by removing that drive from the privacy pane.
And, of course, wait for the database to rebuild, which can take anywhere from a few minutes, to a couple of hours.
The tip that I use to quickly decide if Spotlight is still in process:
Open a search window (just press Command-space)
And, type in a search term.
I use sesss, which is meaningless to me, but brings up foreign language items (and shows that indexing is in progress). You can monitor the progress from that window, if you like.
 
Last edited:

deke

Registered
If you remove the hard drive by adding it to the privacy tab of the Spotlight pref pane, then that removes the spotlight database, and effectively disables it.
You have to re-enable by removing that drive from the privacy pane.
And, of course, wait for the database to rebuild, which can take anywhere from a few minutes, to a couple of hours.
Thanks DeltaMac, but I did exactly this multiple times and Spotlight would not start indexing. I had to use the terminal commands I listed above.
 

DeltaMac

Tech
Yes, I have had that same failure of spotlight in the past, maybe a couple of years ago. I think the last time I was searching for something, trying to add hidden files to the results. Something (unknown) happened, and spotlight just stopped working. It would not respond to terminal commands, as I tried a couple of different methods. I think I eventually reinstalled macOS to get it working again.
 

deke

Registered
Yes, I have had that same failure of spotlight in the past, maybe a couple of years ago. I think the last time I was searching for something, trying to add hidden files to the results. Something (unknown) happened, and spotlight just stopped working. It would not respond to terminal commands, as I tried a couple of different methods. I think I eventually reinstalled macOS to get it working again.
Oh man, that must have been fun! :) I'll make sure to avoid trying anything like that! Thanks for your replies.
 

DeltaMac

Tech
What - reinstalling macOS?
nothing much involved with a simple reload of the OS.
I have one Mac that I use for a lot of different testing, and I probably reinstall about 3 times a month.
It's just a simple reload, not a backup, reformat, install, restore, and all that some might do for that - just a reload. Takes about 30 minutes, and that's it. Typically fixes issues that show up with the way I treat software.
Insert my macOS installer stick.
Reboot to that.
Choose to reinstall macOS.
Wait for the 30 minutes or so for that to complete.
Use the Mac, freshly reloaded and ready to go. I guess you could call that fun... :D
Reloading is just simple maintenance, to me... just part of the way I choose to use that Mac.
 

deke

Registered
What - reinstalling macOS?
nothing much involved with a simple reload of the OS.
I have one Mac that I use for a lot of different testing, and I probably reinstall about 3 times a month.
It's just a simple reload, not a backup, reformat, install, restore, and all that some might do for that - just a reload. Takes about 30 minutes, and that's it. Typically fixes issues that show up with the way I treat software.
Insert my macOS installer stick.
Reboot to that.
Choose to reinstall macOS.
Wait for the 30 minutes or so for that to complete.
Use the Mac, freshly reloaded and ready to go. I guess you could call that fun... :D
Reloading is just simple maintenance, to me... just part of the way I choose to use that Mac.
Can I ask a stupid question. I have had Macs since 1990 and while I knew some tricks in OS7,8,9 (like the System folder..) I have been lucky with OS X on many many Macs. How exactly do you do a reload? Well, you listed the steps, but anything else or details I need to know? Obviously I need to create a USB for Sierra and try this. Don't worry, I am a backup fanatic.

This right?
http://osxdaily.com/2016/02/09/howto-reinstall-os-x-mac-recovery/
 

DeltaMac

Tech
The article that you linked is to reinstall (reload) OS X from your Recovery system.
And, you will note that it doesn't mention any other hardware. You can do the reload without having anything else, if you like. It talks you through booting to your recovery system, when you just select Reinstall macOS, and let it go. The recovery system downloads the system files, then restarts to install them as a reload.
If you have a USB installer stick, and you boot to THAT stick, it will be very much like you see in that article - except the reload will be much faster, as the system files don't need to be downloaded first (already on the installer stick)

One last item. You will be asked if you want to enable two-factor authentication. I don't care to use that, so remember when you see that, and if you don't use that, cancel it. Not much else happens, just some waiting time. :D
 
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