Hide the Spotlight Menu Icon in Mac OS X
Whether you are disabling Spotlight or just wanting to reduce menubar icon clutter, it’s possible to hide the Spotlight icon. Here’s the best part though; if you just want to hide the Spotlight menu, you can do so without disabling the search abilities from functioning in the Finder or with other apps that rely on the Spotlight metadata, meaning the icon will disappear but you’ll still have the awesome search functions available elsewhere. We’ll show you how to hide the Spotlight menu bar icon from appearing in Mac OS X from versions 10.7, 10.8, and beyond. It only takes a minute or so, and though it uses Terminal and the command line, it’s not tricky of complicated as long as you follow the instructions.
Hide the Spotlight Menu Icon in OS X
To reemphasize, this does not disable Spotlight or mds, it only hides the icon from the menubar.
Launch the Terminal from /Applications/Utilities/ and type the following command string exactly:
sudo chmod 600 /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle/Contents/MacOS/Search
Hit return, and then you will need to kill a process called “SystemUIServer” to refresh the menubar in OS X and have the change take effect:
Hit return again for the change to take effect. When finished you can exit out of Terminal if you’d like.
What you’ll find is the Spotlight menu is removed instantly as a result of this, but the search abilities built into Finder (and tied with Spotlights speed and feature set) still work as seen in the screenshot showing the “Searching This Mac” window, accessible with Command+F :
Show the Spotlight Menu Again
Getting the Spotlight icon back is a matter of bringing the permissions back to their default setting in OS X. Go back to the Terminal app by relaunching it from /Applications/Utilities/, and then enter the exact command syntax below:
sudo chmod 755 /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle/Contents/MacOS/Search
Hit the return key, then follow this up with killing the SystemUIServer process again:
The system menu bar will refresh, and the Spotlight menu will be visible again like so:
This has been tested and confirmed to work in OS X Lion 10.7 and OS X Mountain Lion 10.8 onward, and presumably will carry forward to future releases of OS X as well.
Thanks to Juan for the tip left in our comments, great idea!