MAC - Force Mac OS X To Re-Index A Volume For Better Spotlight Searches (Mac OS X 10.4 or later)

If you discover that Spotlight isn't displaying items that you feel should be showing up, the index that the utility uses to perform searches may have permission levels set wrong or the index may be corrupted. Fortunately, you don't have to reinstall Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) in order to correct theses problems.

To fix the permission levels:

  1. Launch Disk Utility (located at (/Applications/Utilities/)
  2. Choose the volume from the list on the left side of the utility
  3. Click the Repair Disk Permissions button and allow the program to make corrections to your drive. When completed, the message box displays the changes it made to the volume
  4. Close the utility

If repairing the permissions doesn't work, you should then consider rebuilding the index. Instead, all you have to do is:

  1. Choose Apple | System Preferences
  2. Select the Spotlight pane
  3. Choose the Privacy tab
  4. Click the Plus button and select the volume you wish to re-index. This adds the volume to the Privacy list
  5. Close the System Preferences and wait about thirty minutes
  6. Repeat the process of opening the Spotlight preference and delete the volume from the Privacy list by selecting it and clicking the Minus button
  7. Close the System Preference and allow the utility to rebuild the index

It's best that you keep the computer plugged in and running for the next few hours while the index is rebuilt in the background. To check the status of the re-index, just perform a Spotlight search. If it isn't finished re-indexing, Spotlight will display the status instead of the list of found items.

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