To launch apps, I exclusively use Spotlight because it's the more convenient, keyboard-only way. However, after a recent reinstall, I noticed that my apps isn't showing up in the Spotlight results anymore. After trying and failing with a bunch of methods, I've found the solution and would love to share it with those who are pulling out their hair over the same problem.
Method 1: Force a Reindex
Sometimes Spotlight just skips the applications when indexing. You need to get it to index the applications so that it will appear in the results again. While there are ways to force a reindex, including using CleanMyMac X or through commands with Terminal.
Here is how I did it which is what ultimately work for me without using Terminal.
First, open up System Preferences > Spotlight and click on the Privacy tab. This lets you exclude certain apps or files from appearing in Spotlight results. What you want to do is exclude your apps momentarily and then include them again to make the system force a reindex of those specific apps or files.
To do so, open up your Applications folder and drag all your applications into the list above. Make sure you are dragging the applications themselves and not the “Applications” folder.
Once you see them in the list, close your System Preferences panel to “lock in” the changes. Then simply open the same Privacy panel and remove all the items you added earlier.
That's it. If it is working, you should be able to see applications appear in your Spotlight results in a matter of minutes.
Apple has also written a support article about his exact method here.
Method 2: Force a reindex through Terminal
If method 1 doesn't work, it's time to get your hands dirty with some Terminal commands.
Open up your Terminal app which comes with your MacOS. You can find it in your Application folder.
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Enter the following command
sudo mdutil -E /
If it doesn't work, you can also try the following to reindex all volumes by added the -a parameter.
sudo mdutil -Ea /
and press Enter. You'll be prompted for your system password, so enter it and press Enter.
If it works, you'll see the message “Indexing enabled”. Hopefully, this will trigger the index and your apps will appear again.
Thanks for your advice, but it didn’t work for me completely. Some apps still did not appear. Then i tried “mdutil -Ea” to re-index all volumes and voila, it works again.
@Thomas, do you do that command in the terminal too? For me it says: “unable to perform operation, try as root”.
It’s still indexing though I might have to wait it out a bit longer.
@OP thanks for this tutorial!
@Luuk, you might forgot to type the full command:
sudo mdutil -Ea /
THANK YOU!!! It was so annoying that my apps stopped showing up on spotlight. Now it works!!!
Worked perfectly. Thanks a lot!
Thanks a million worked perfectly. Just tried both commands in terminal and it worked.
Thanks for the “mdutil -Ea”, it worked!
I get the result 2021-12-07 15:21:20.988 mdutil[9530:162765] mdutil disabling Spotlight: / -> kMDConfigSearchLevelFSSearchOnly
regardless of which command I use.
yeah I get the same outcome…
My indexing showed as disabled as well. Try this command instead:
sudo mdutil -Eai on /
That will turn indexing back on. Then you can click on the spotlight icon and you’ll see the indexing underway.
THANK YOUUUUUU I haven’t had Spotlightworking for 3 months and this FIXED IT!
Thanks for your advice, in my case terminal responds as such “Index is already changing state. Please try again in a moment.”. I tried it in a moment and nothing changed.
Finally fixed .. after I messed it I fixed funny is that its hard to say what was that action that stopped my apps from showing up and what was that it enabled again…
The above example only erases the current Indexing
There’s a really good fix from a guy here [link omitted]
1. List the store locations
sudo mdutil -sav
2. check that / and /System/Volumes/Data have Indexing and Searching enabled
3. enable these partitions indexing:
sudo mdutil -i on /
sudo mdutil -i on /System/Volumes/Data