How to Completely Disable Spotlight
We’re big fans of Spotlight here at OS X Daily, but we realize it’s not everyones cup of tea. If you’re someone who dislikes Spotlight enough to want it disabled completely then this is the guide for you. What you’ll need is some basic knowledge of the command line and a command line text editor (we’ll use nano in this example, perhaps the easiest). Note that some other Mac OS X features and programs are based on Spotlight’s search abilities, therefore some applications could behave abnormally if you disable Spotlight, particularly in search functions.
These directions below are intended for older versions of OS X, including 10.4 and 10.5. Newer versions of Mac OS X have better, more direct ways of disabling the Spotlight search functionality, typically with just a single command entered into the Terminal. Users of more modern versions of OS X are recommended to use those, this for Snow Leopard, and here for Mavericks, Mountain Lion, and Lion. The instructions below for prior versions of Mac OS X are included for posterity as they continue to be relevant to machines that are not able to run the most recent versions available.
- Launch Terminal and type the following:
sudo nano /etc/hostconfig
- Navigate using the arrow keys down the following entry:
- Save /etc/hostconfig by hitting Control-O and the return key, next hit Control-X to exit the nano editor
- Next, you’ll want to disable the index by typing the following in the Terminal:
mdutil -i off /
- And to erase the current Spotlight index, type:
mdutil -E /
- That’s pretty much it, on your next reboot, Spotlight will be completely disabled.
- If you want to enable Spotlight again, follow the same steps as above, but change
- and then type
mdutil -i on /in the Terminal
- Reboot, and Spotlight is back as usual
Disable Spotlight in OS X 10.5
To turn off Spotlight in Leopard, use this trick:
Move these two files to another safe location and then reboot your mac
Re-enable Spotlight by moving those files back to their original location, reboot, and Spotlight will work again.
Repair a Broken Spotlight
Is Spotlight broken and not working for you? Read our fix broken Spotlight guide.