Why is Spotlight a bit dim?
September 26, 2005 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Spotlight in OS X 10.4 -- doesn't seem to index the actual contents of files and emails. Searching for known terms produces no hits. Mac Mini, 3 mos. old. Any ideas?
posted by words1 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
What kinds of files and what email program are you using? Spotlight needs there to be a special indexer for each filetype, which basically means applications need explicit Spotlight support before it works.
posted by cillit bang at 3:10 PM on September 26, 2005

If you're not using Mail.app, then chances are your emails are not being indexed. Entourage, for example, lumps all your emails into a single file, and Spotlight doesn't know how to index that file.
posted by pmbuko at 3:12 PM on September 26, 2005

It's my wife's machine. She does use Mail, and MS Word for documents. Does Spotlight index Word docs? It would be vewy, vewy stupid not to.
posted by words1 at 3:23 PM on September 26, 2005

It does index word docs.

Has anyone added anythign to the list of directories that spotlight ignores?
posted by schwa at 3:31 PM on September 26, 2005

nope, the "ignore" box is empty.
posted by words1 at 3:41 PM on September 26, 2005

Could this be some kind of permission issue? How would I check that? (I use XP and Copernic, myself.)
posted by words1 at 3:42 PM on September 26, 2005

If you know how to operate Terminal, cd into a directory with a file that isn't being indexed and type "mdimport -d 3 [filename]". The first thing it will report is the current status of that file. It'll then say what kind of file it thinks it is, then it will attempt to index the file and show the results. You should get some clues on what's happening if you do that.
posted by cillit bang at 4:08 PM on September 26, 2005

If you can't figure out what's wrong, there's always the brute-force approach: running "sudo mdutil -E /" in Terminal will wipe the index for the main drive, and then Spotlight will re-index everything automatically.

(If you don't know sudo, it's a command that runs whatever comes after it as root. When you run the command above, it'll probably ask you for a password; this should be the password of your wife's account, assuming she's an administrator on the machine.)
posted by esd at 4:20 PM on September 26, 2005

this happened to me a couple times. go into your user folder, go into library, go into preferences, delete com.apple.spotlight.plist and restart. It worked for me every time.
posted by pokeydonut at 8:25 PM on September 26, 2005

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