1. What is causing this to happen?
  2. What can I do to fix it?


I use Spotlight to launch my applications much like Quicksilver and have recently found that many of my applications aren't showing up in the Spotlight search.


I am on a MacBook Pro running Mac OS 10.6 and have been using Spotlight without any problems for almost a year now. I switched to 10.6 when it was released almost a month ago and this problem didn't start until about 2 days ago and was not right after an update to the OS.

I know someone is going to say it so I will just get it out of the way right now. "Use Quicksilver" I am currently using Quicksilver until I get Spotlight working again. I don't like the idea of things disappearing from Spotlight so I would still like to figure out what's going on and fix it.


Credit to joshhunt and choge for their answers. Both their answers completely answer the question but joshhunts question got selected because that is what I needed to fix the problem. I have written a how to on my blog with the combination of their answers.


3 Answers 3


First, make sure Applications (and the others that you want) is selected in System Preferences > Spotlight.

If that does not work, it is possible somehow indexing got disabled. In terminal, run the following command:

sudo mdutil -E /

Still, if that fails try deleting the Spotlight index and start indexing it again:

sudo rm -r /.Spotlight-V<TAB>
sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
sudo mdutil -E /

On my machine, the Spotlight index was .Spotlight-V100, but I have seen it as other, that is why used tab completion

  • 1
    Onyx, and several other utilities allow you to rebuild Spotlight's index outside of the terminal. Jul 19, 2009 at 17:43
  • So I guess you never discovered what caused that problem, right @Mike?
    – cregox
    Apr 29, 2010 at 23:18
  • @Cawas, Never figured out why it happened. It has since happened to me several times even after doing a fresh install of the OS. :(
    – Mike Grace
    May 8, 2010 at 2:19
  • @Mike that's curious. And every time it happens, you just follow your own how-to? If you ever catch the moment it happens, try to look at your Console. Sometimes the message there can be clarifying. But it does depend on knowing exactly when it happened.
    – cregox
    May 12, 2010 at 0:19
  • @Cawas, Yep! Just follow my own how-to when I find that it happens. : )
    – Mike Grace
    Jun 13, 2010 at 22:02

In System Preferences > Spotlight there are two settings that may have been changed to cause something like this:

  • The "Applications" category may be set not to display in results
  • Your Privacy list may be set to exclude certain directories that contain applications.

It is also possible that the Spotlight index is not updating if the applications that are not showing up are new ones.


Since Mac OS X 10.6 isn't released yet (coming in September 2009), you probably run a beta version which is being provided for testing and development purposes. I suspect this is a bug in the new Spotlight implementation.

You could try to report the bug on Apple's Developer's site: Apple Developer Connection - Bug Reporting


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