how to disable Spotlight's indexing on Mac

Here’s how to disable Spotlight’s indexing on Mac

To get straight to the point: we don’t recommend turning off Spotlight. It is an indispensable function to quickly find certain files.

You’d be better off adjusting Spotlight’s indexing so it doesn’t include all file types and folders.

We tell you how that works and how you can still enable and disable Spotlight indexing.

Disable Spotlight Indexing

Spotlight is your Mac ‘s search engine , which can quickly locate files for you. However, there are situations conceivable where you are less happy with it. For example, if you don’t want to see all kinds of private data in Spotlight on a business Mac .

Because Spotlight gives an overwhelming number of results, or when you have certain folders of secret information that Spotlight is absolutely not allowed to index.

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Spotlight is a standard part of macOS , so it’s not an app that you can just remove. However, you can disable the feature, which will stop it indexing files and folders and effectively stop working. In this tip, we’re going to show you how to turn off Spotlight’s indexing on the Mac and also how to turn it back on.

How do I customize Spotlight indexing?

You can decide for yourself which parts should be indexed by Spotlight. Your Mac then only checks the items that are checked.

  1. Go to System Preferences > Spotlight . In macOS Ventura and later, go to System Settings > Siri & Spotlight .
  2. Uncheck the items that should not be indexed in Spotlight.
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Exclude specific folders from Spotlight

In the (Spotlight) Privacy section you can add folders that should not be indexed by Spotlight either. Click on the plus sign and add a folder.

Turn off spotlight

We don’t recommend disabling Spotlight altogether. If you want to do this anyway, follow the steps below. This does require disabling the System Integrity Protection (SIP) . Disabling SIP does have some risks, which you can read more about in our explanation.

After you disable System Integrity Protection, do the following:

  1. Open the Terminal program , which can be found in the Utilities folder of the Applications folder on your Mac.
  2. Enter the following Terminal command: sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
  3. Enter the password of the user with administrator rights.
  4. Now you are done. If you open Spotlight and type something to search, you won’t see any more results.
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Turn spotlight back on

To re-enable Spotlight on your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Terminal program and enter the following Terminal command in the window: sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
  2. Now Spotlight starts working again right away; you do not have to enter an administrator password. As soon as you open Spotlight and enter a search term, you will immediately see results appear again.