I have an external hard drive connected to my Macbook Pro that I always leave on. When I use spotlight to search for something, it always searches this drive. I don't want it to do this because usually the drive is in standby mode, so it takes a while to power up when I use spotlight to find something, and usually what I'm trying to find isn't on that hard drive. How can I prevent spotlight from searching this drive?


2 Answers 2


System Prefs --> Spotlight --> Privacy.

Add the drive(s) you want to exclude.


For a scripting approach try this: Disabling Spotlight in OS X Leopard for the removable drives

Should work for Snow Leopard too.

  • The only drawback is that if you unmount the drive you will have to re-add it again in the future.
    – ricbax
    Nov 7, 2010 at 17:47
  • No that's not correct. If you add it to the privacy pane, that computer (and others) will ignore it for spotlight in the future. The spotlight pane writes a .<something> file to the root of the drive, which other systems will recognize. At least that's the way it works in OS 10.6 and I believe in 10.5... Nov 8, 2010 at 13:50
  • @Benjamin Schollnick - You mean the hidden .Spotlight-V100 folder? You are correct but at the time of writing that comment I had not fully researched the behaviour of Spotlight indexing.
    – ricbax
    Nov 8, 2010 at 18:19
  • I was thinking of the .metadata_never_index file... Nov 8, 2010 at 19:41

Assuming you don't want Spotlight to index the drive either, create a file,


on the root of the drive. It will no longer get indexed, and, no index, no search. From this tip from Mac OS-X Hints.

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