Why doesn’t Spotlight on my Mac find files?

Piseth Mao January 21, 2013

I don’t know why I can’t find any file when searching in the finder. I’m not talking about Spotlight. Please see my picture in the link to have better idea what I mean. https://dl.dropbox.com/u/50194804/search.jpg

I used to have problem with Spotlight but after re-indexing it, it works just fine. Is there any way similar to this? I really hate it when I have to browse the file one by one. Please help.

  1. Anish Parameshwaran
    February 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    If you look at spotlight preferences under the privacy tab, check to make sure that the file you're looking for isn't located in any of the areas where spotlight isn't allowed to look.

  2. Scott Hilderbran
    January 31, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    You can usually adjust the search setting in system preferences.

  3. Piseth Mao
    January 22, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Sorry everyone! I don't know why my title says Spotlight; maybe I mistyped it. I tended to say File Search. So please stick to File Search.

  4. Jan Fritsch
    January 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    The Search box of Finder does use the same Spotlight database and should list local files too.
    You could try searching for the filename by opening a Finder window and press "cmd + F", select "Name" and put the text in the small box next to it.

    If the files are on a server it has to be minimum OS X Server 10.5 with Spotlight server enabled for this share or you have to use a third party tool like FindAnyFile.

    If the files are local I feel like you still don't have a valid Spotlight Index.

    • Piseth Mao
      January 22, 2013 at 1:24 am

      Is there anything to do with Spotlight too? Anyway, my Spotlight works just find but I only set it to search Application. That's why I need File Search to work as I use it to quick search the file in the Folder I'm on in Finder.

      • Jan Fritsch
        January 27, 2013 at 12:17 am

        Unfortunately, yes.

        I'm not sure for Leopard (or before) but starting with Snow Leopard all searches done via Finder go through the metadata server ("mds" daemon) which ultimately is Spotlight.

        If you disabled Spotlight or excluded certain files, folders, types from it any built-in search will not find it.

        The only exception to this would be a UNIX type search e.g. using the "find" command within Terminal. But then again a third-party tool like FindAnyFile would be way more convenient.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm


  5. ha14
    January 21, 2013 at 9:57 am

    see if Finder window list is set to sort by the Kind, if yes change it to Name, then close the window, and reopen it.

    Find Any File

    • Piseth Mao
      January 22, 2013 at 1:16 am

      Thanks ha14, but it still doesn't work. I don't want to use any third party because I don't need to do critical search. I just want to quick find the file when I need to open it like music while browsing in Finder. I like the feature, but don't know why it doesn't work. I feel that it used to work (not sure).

      • ha14
        January 22, 2013 at 10:03 am

        Finder issues? How to delete its preferences

        Try going to disk utilities, select the hard disk and repair permissions.

        MacOS X uses the extension and file type settings to choose the application when opening a file in Finder, while Safari and other applications use the URL and MIME type settings at other times for content not related to a file (such as an unknown URL protocol, or a media stream).

        • Piseth Mao
          January 22, 2013 at 11:42 am

          Now I found out that when searching files on Desktop folder (in Finder Window) the Search File works. But the problem occurs for file in anther partition (I name it Storage).

        • ha14
          January 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm

          perhaps to reindex
          sudo mdutil -E /Volumes/*
          Launch the Terminal copy & paste this command into the window that pops up, hit the return key, if Password required carefully enter your admin user password. This should erase all indexes and cause Spotlight to reindex all mounted volumes.

          perhaps spotlight will not search that location if you are not the user? and do jot have read/write access
          try this command
          sudo chown -R "your account name":admin /Volumes/"name of data volume"

          use your name, volume...Launch System Preferences delete the user (who likely has only write access) that has the volume, restart see if it helps

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