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Lion Spotlight search broken? Always returns 1000's of results!

36533 Views 26 Replies Latest reply: Sep 22, 2013 9:46 PM by Amanda Marks1 RSS
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ferdnerfer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Aug 4, 2011 2:03 PM

Anytime I do a search in Lion I get 5,000+ results.


Even for a known unique word like "aaabbbcccdddeee".


Reindexing Spotlight has no effect.

Mac OS X (10.7)
  • MHTechSolutions Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)

    Delete all files containing "aaabbbcccdddeee". Just kidding


    Create a 'test' user and log in using it. See if spotlight still has the same issue.


    - Mark

    MH Tech Solutions, LLC.

  • MHTechSolutions Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)

    Not sure if this will help but you can try this in



    Turn indexing off for /

    sudo mdutil -i off /


    Clear the metadata store for /

    sudo mdutil -E /


    Turn indexing back on for /

    sudo mdutil -i on /



    - Mark

    MH Tech Solutions, LLC.


  • MHTechSolutions Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)

    Don't know if this will help, but you can delete the folder 'Cache' in your user library and in the System Library folder.


    Reboot the computer.


    Empty trash.


    You might want to try to disable spotlight indexing first, delete the old spotlight metadata. After emptying the trash, renable spotlight.


    - Mark

    MH Tech Solutions, LLC.

  • janopus Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    "wildcard" ... intresting notion

    try picking any one of the 5000 files and do a get info (command-i).

    Is there anything in the "Spotlight Comments" at the top.  I don't know why there should be, but a common character inserted (by some unknown gremlin) into all the files would cause hits for all the files.

    Another grasp in the dark.


    Any other search programs like HoudaSpot that use the index?  Might try.


    Does a simple "Find" (command-f) work?


    Something flakey is going on my machine too, sometimes getting 10,000 hits for a simple search like "apple".

    Although HoudaSpot works fine.


    Entering  "appl" into the Finder 'Searching "This Mac" ' displays a window that should be showing that files containing "appl" in the name, but many don't. But look; something interesting: it also say that the kind of files found (which on the left you will see should be "any"), but it leasts the kinds "Application" and "Apple icon image", but not "PDF".  Perhaps it is picking up the pdf icon that is displayed with each file.  This is the only thing that might make sense, since each of the files displayed has an icon associated with it.  Just a guess, but it could be a bug in Spotlight.  This search found 10,000 items, which is also clealy incorrect unless the search is somehow limited to exactly 10,000 items.  That I don't know.  See image below:

    From Clipboard.png

    whatever ... something is rotten in Denmark (Shakespeare)


  • MHTechSolutions Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)

    Just a suggestion, why not create a new user account and migrate all your documents over?


    Since its only your user account affected, I doubt the System\Caches will fix it. But I always empty it out anyway whenever deleting a User Cache folder.


    I'm out of ideas myself and I can't really try anything without having access to your computer to dig deeper.


    Do you get a different amount of results when searching




    verses searching



  • MHTechSolutions Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)

    Try to create another user and migrate the files, except for anything inside Library


    See if the problem still occurs. I would even remove the spotlight metadata and let it re-index everything.


    If no issues are found on the account, then we can narrow it down to being in the Library folder.


    To get to the root of the issue, we have to remove each possible scenario one by one.


    Let me know the outcome of what I suggested.


    - Mark

    MH Tech Solutions, LLC.

  • janopus Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I have exactly the same experience as ferdnerfer, Houdaspot works fine, so the index itsef appears to be fine.

    For the time being I am relying on Houdaspot as I have a couple of thousand journal articles on my machine and spotlight is failing me just now.

    I am currently checking the second user on machine to see if, for some unknown reason, it might be different.


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