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I opened up Spotlight, typed '12*' to do some multiplication and it's been frozen for the last 20 minutes.

I am looking for how to restart the program/service/whatever it technically is, but it's not in the Force Quit menu, so what is the quickest way to kill this process without restarting my computer? (I am on Mac OS X Snow Leopard)

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Damon, why you accepted an answer that didn't work for you? I for one just got the exact same issue for the first time, tried the exact same measures, including from your comments below, and then tried every suggestion in the answers but still got nothing. It's still frozen there. Did you ever solve this without a reboot? :P –  Cawas Apr 12 '11 at 1:16
    
Yeah, I know how having a low acceptance rate feels like. I try to avoid it too. Funny thing is that the best way to do it is avoiding asking questions! :P Well, I won't reboot just to fix this. I want to find out a good answer for it! –  Cawas Apr 12 '11 at 1:28
    
so you tried all that terminal junk and no dice? –  Damon Apr 12 '11 at 1:42
    
the terminal junk is the same as the activity monitor junk, just like Wilersh said himself. and yep, no dices there. Spotlight is now behaving weird and I do think it triggered the issue but now I know it is actually the task/notification bar that's locked. My clock has stopped and the colorful hourglass is all over every regular mac icon there. –  Cawas Apr 12 '11 at 1:46

7 Answers 7

up vote 33 down vote accepted

Actually, I just got the same issue (as I was saying on the comments) and it's not Spotlight that's frozen. It is the Menubar. Just like with spotlight, we simply have to kill it so it will be restarted by launchd.

Use the Activity Monitor and search for SystemUIServer or use the Terminal:

killall SystemUIServer

Whoever is using terminal should know better about using sudo or not.

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I seem to recall the clock stopped changing for me as well.. though can't be certain.. it was 3 months ago after all hehe –  Damon Apr 12 '11 at 2:37
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I had the same problem, and ended up restarting.. The entire notification area was frozen, so the answer may have been to restart/kill that process. –  mpe May 18 '11 at 8:17
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I tried this solution and it worked (I did it from the Activity Monitor, but that's close enough) –  iwein Jul 19 '11 at 11:17
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@Damon - I can confirm that the clock stopped changing for me. –  lindon fox Aug 17 '11 at 6:33
    
Did not work for me. Spotlight icon only is still unresponsive. –  Jonny Jun 6 at 4:04

It'll probably show up in /Applications/Utilities/Activity Monitor.app. Select All Processes in the toolbar to see processes of all users.


The screenshot is from when I was searching something. I guess you'd kill mds by pressing Cmd-Opt-Q after selecting it to terminate Spotlight, but I'm not sure -- probably best if you checked CPU usage and/or if the name of a process is written in red, indicating it froze.

alt text

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odd.. as soon as I force-quite it, it appears back there and my spotlight menu is still up working away at nothing. –  Damon Jan 10 '11 at 22:22
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@Damon It's a server intended to run all the time, and gets restarted once you stop it. If it were responsible for the issue, killing it would fix it. Have you tried looking for another task, that maybe uses much CPU, or maybe tried to simply restart Finder? –  Daniel Beck Jan 10 '11 at 22:24
    
restarting finder was the first thing i did.. nothing else really doing much other than Window Server.. looks like i'm just going to have to reboot –  Damon Jan 10 '11 at 22:54

The first post is correct that mds is the process for spotlight. You can kill it in activity monitor or:

sudo killall mds

from the terminal. The process will restart automatically as it is managed as a launchd item that is set to always be running.

You might look at

man mdutil

as well. This is a utility at the command line for managing mds settings on volumes.

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Killing mds does not work for me either. –  Jonny Jun 6 at 4:05

kill systemUIserver

killall -KILL SystemUIServer

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For the record, just had this issue but I couldn't get terminal or activity monitor to work. The solution? Use Apple+Option+esc to bring up the Force Quit Applications dialog, select the trouble app, then click the "force quit" button.

Cheers!

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Apple + Option + Esc is also a great advice... I hope I recall that the next time spotlight seem to freeze. Which trouble app did you happen to kill in your case? –  Cawas Nov 13 '13 at 19:58

In Activity Monitor I stopped "Quick Look UI Helper." This might be a bit less brute force than some of the other suggestions, assuming that's what is hanging up in your case, too.

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06-19-14 I had a Spotlight-created, seemingly frozen dialog box describing an Evernote note with 0KB. I logged off, then logged back in. The dialog box disappeared. Did not need to reboot. Spotlight itself continued to function normally even though the previous "hit" was still stuck on the Desktop screen.

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