How to Completely Disable Spotlight on Mac OS X

Spotlight search on Mac OS X is a great tool for internal file searches. But not everyone like Spotlight and for those who want to disable Spotlight this will help you do that. A main reason Apple users want to disable Spotlight search is because of mdworker, the software running Spotlight. It’s important to know that some other Mac OS X features and programs are supported Spotlight’s search and other apps could not work differently if you disable Spotlight search.

These directions below are intended for older versions of OS X, including 10.4 and 10.5. 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. To learn how to disable spotlight search on OS X Yosemite, OS X Mavericks, OS Mountain Lion and OS X Lion read this guide.

How to Completely Disable Spotlight on Mac OS X

Disabling Spotlight

  1. Launch Terminal and type the following: sudo nano /etc/hostconfig
  2. Navigate using the arrow keys down the following entry: SPOTLIGHT=-YES-
  4. Save /etc/hostconfig by hitting Control-O and the return key, next hit Control-X to exit the nano editor
  5. Next, you’ll want to disable the index by typing the following in the Terminal:
    mdutil -i off /
  6. And to erase the current Spotlight index, type: mdutil -E /
  7. That’s pretty much it, on your next reboot, Spotlight will be completely disabled.

Re-Enable Spotlight

  1. If you want to enable Spotlight again, follow the same steps as above, but change SPOTLIGHT=-NO-to SPOTLIGHT=-YES-
  2. and then type mdutil -i on /in the Terminal
  3. 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.

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos