How do I remove the Spotlight icon from the Mac OS X menubar?

Spotlight icon

Note, I don't want to disable Spotlight (I use it). I just want to remove the icon.


OK just tested this in SL and it worked, icon was removed but spotlight was still working in Finder:

$ cd /System/Library/CoreServices/
$ sudo mv Search.bundle/ Search2.bundle/

Now restart SystemUIServer, the icon is gone, Spotlight still works. To get Spotlight icon back:

$ sudo mv Search2.bundle/ Search.bundle/

And restart SystemUIServer again...

  • 1
    Just to confirm - still works in Lion. – Leonid Shevtsov Jan 3 '12 at 23:43
  • Does this still work? In El Capitan? – Abhishek Saini Feb 21 '16 at 16:21
  • 1
    Doesn't work in Sierra - "operation not permitted." – DonielF Aug 1 '17 at 2:31

How about doing:

sudo chmod 600 /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle/Contents/MacOS/Search

In this way, the Search binary is still read/writable for root and can thus be updated by SoftwareUpdate. Making it non-readable for other users will prevent it from being launched!

  • This works great for me – quackingduck Nov 13 '10 at 21:14
  • Best answer here. Works perfectly in a non-destructive manner. Thanks! – Liam Jul 20 '12 at 19:34
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    after running this you should do a killall SystemUIServer to apply this without rebooting – FLY Nov 8 '12 at 11:57
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    I get chmod: Unable to change file mode on /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle/Contents/MacOS/Search: Operation not permitted on 10.14 Mojave – IanVaughan Oct 23 '18 at 6:43
  • This approach breaks Command-Space shortcut. To undo this, do sudo chmod 666 /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle/Contents/MacOS/Search – William Entriken Aug 21 '19 at 13:23

Snow Leopard and Leopard handle the Spotlight menu very differently. Under Leopard, the Spotlight menu is an application on its own rights. That application is launched by launchd. The menu may thus easily be disabled by modifying the appropriate launchd configuration file.

Snow Leopard seems to have revered to the Tiger way of running the Spotlight menu. The menu itself lives in /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle . It is automatically loaded by SystemUIServer.app which is also host to menu extras.

While there are preference files allowing us to disable menu extras, I can't seem to find any way to disable Search.bundle

The previously suggested option of renaming Search.bundle does work, but comes at a high risk. A future system update may try to update Search.bundle and end up with a partial bundle file. Thus SystemUIServer will crash trying to load that bundle. To be safe, one would need to restore the bundle before each update. Hardly a desirable solution.

Moreover renaming Search.bundle or removing read rights affects all users on the machine. A per-user preferences as available under Leopard would be preferable.


If you want to still be able to keep all of the functionality of the menu bar spotlight search but have white space for the spotlight in the menu bar you can replace the icon image file with a blank one or your own custom icon. The image file is



  1. Navigate to folder
    cd /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle/Contents/Resources
  2. Open folder
    open .
  3. Make copy for backup
  4. Give yourself read write permission on parent folder and image file
  5. Open image in Adobe Illustrator
  6. Modify icon to liking
  7. Save
  8. Restart SystemUIServer
    killall SystemUIServer

Quick and easy is to use the free utility OnyX.

enter image description here

Also, I'm using LaunchBar set to use a keyboard shortcut for Spotlight search in LaunchBar (set in LB prefs).

This also stops keyboard shortcuts for Spotlight, but not in Finder searching.

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