Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Tips to fix indexing on Spotlight, Mac’s own search engine

Mac OS X got its own search engine in the name of ‘Spotlight’ application. Clicking on the Magnifying Glass icon, which is located on the top-right direction of the menu bar, can launch this search engine app. Alternatively, the same can be launched by keyword combination that is Command+Spacebar.

Purpose of Spotlight:

Like any other application, Spotlight too has its significant importance in OS X Mac. It was first bundled with OS X 10.4 in the year 2005. Since then, Spotlight has constantly evolved with the entire later OS X & proved to be immensely useful application.  It serves the purpose to quickly produce the result once Spotlight receives input query from the user.

E.g: I want to launch Disk Utility without navigating through Finder<Application<Utilities, which is its traditional path.

So, I either click on the Magnifying glass icon or more conveniently press CMD+SPACE to bring in the spotlight text box. 

Once the required search term (which is ‘disk utility’ in above case) is entered into the text box, the Spotlight quickly produces the relevant result. Hence, I saved my time navigating through folders and brought my required search in minimum time.

So, Spotlight will ease any of your search related to Mac OS X application, folders, files that are well known to OS X. That means, the Spotlight will produce the most relevant search results, if the search query is well known to its index.

BTW, index is something, which is saved into the Spotlight’s memory and helps produces quick results on demand.

What Google is to Web is what Spotlight is to Mac OS X

Smartness of Spotlight:

When the entire OS X is smart, how can we not expect the Spotlight to be smarter? To let readers know, Spotlight not only let us finds files, folders, apps, pictures on the basis of their file names but it also allows to locate & launch a file based on the type of content as well as the metadata of the file. A metadata is nothing but information about a particular file.

File Size, Date Created, and Author & Copyright info.

How Spotlight Works?

If you know how Google Search Works then you automatically know how Spotlight works, Vice-Versa. Like Google indexes all the WebPages, content & images on the website and produces results upon user query, similarly Spotlight indexes every single content & information (metadata) from a file, folder & app and save in its database. This database is called Spotlight Index.

When we enter our search query into the Spotlight text box, it quickly scans its database to give in the result. While it scans, you may notice the progress bar in action.

Include & Exclude specific files from Spotlight:

It is extremely simple to exclude files from Spotlight search results. Firstly user has to launch System Preferences<<Spotlight. If you wish not to index pictures by spotlight, then simply uncheck IMAGES option. Similar actions may be performed for Documents, Music etc.

Add more files to Spotlight Exclusion list:

Again, removing files from Spotlight search can be attained by including partitions, files & folders so that they don’t appear in search results. Doing this is as simple as eating pie. But first switch to Privacy tab from Spotlight window & click (+) or (-) to add/remove files. Users can even drag-drop files, folders & partitions to the exclusion list.

Problem with Spotlight:

Despite of its greatness, Spotlight is filled up with some flaws. Among them, user will find that it doesn’t find all files, particularly those whose permission access is restricted. Spotlight doesn’t index files that are lying in trash, archived files and even disk images (.dmg). In addition, time machine backup & system files are also ignored from search results.

Common issue that arises with Spotlight:

·      Unable to index files due to corruption
·      Unable to refresh its index
·      Unable to search a file which is very much exist on the hard drive.

Rebuild Index & fix Spotlight:

Follow the simple game to rebuild index

·      Drag OS partition i.e. Mac startup disk to spotlight. Below box will appear. Click OK.

·      Now remove (-) the partition you just added.
·      Close the Spotlight
·      The re-indexing process is initiated at the background of the OS X.
·      You can check by pressing CMD+Space and following box will show up.

As long as the process runs, the Spotlight remains inactive. Once done, user will restore to Peaceful Searching.