10 Replies Latest reply: May 14, 2011 2:40 PM by Koen van Dijken
pasha25 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
I have problems using Spotlight to locate items in my Time Machine backups.
It is always solved by going to the timeline and finding the searched-for program, document, image, email or whatever. Using Spotlight seems to not search my Time Machine backups. Is this misuse of the program or a lack in Spotlight's usability?
Any replies will be appreciated.

Mac mini '08, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Barry Hemphill Level 8 Level 8 (36,960 points)
    Hello p:

    Go to system preferences>spotlight>privacy and see if Time Machine is excluded (I think that is the default). Indexing the Time Machine backup files is, IMHO, a waste of time.

  • kisuke3 Level 3 Level 3 (910 points)
    How is your time machine setup?

    Here's my 2cents

    If its through Time capsule or external hard drive attached to an airport extreme base station or otherwise known as Airport Disk. Unless the drive is mounted, spotlight won't see any of those stuff

    Time capsule: When you perform a back up, your computer connects and mounts to the TC volume and perform the back up. After backing up it normally unmounts itself once finished. It does not stay mounted.(I only speak from experience).

    That being the case, spotlight wouldn't be able to search any items saved on the back ups since its not connected.

    My suggestion
    1. If its a TC disk > connect to its disk > Mount the sparesebundle and try spotlight
    2. If its an external HDD connected to the mac via USB, that's a different story. It should find those items, maybe you just need to index it
  • pasha25 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Time Machine is not listed in Spotlight>Preferences. Adding, then deleting the hard drive in Privacy makes Spotlight index the hard drive.The Time Machine is USB-connected.
  • kisuke3 Level 3 Level 3 (910 points)
    it wont be in the spotlight preferences. What you needed to add or drag in the spotlight preferences was the time machine back up itself

    in your case the "backups.backupsdb" folder.
  • pasha25 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Unknown Error appears when I drag the backups to the Privacy box. Search Results doesn't appear to have "+". I dragged the Time Machine icon (selected from my mac). Perhaps, what I am asking is how does one index Time Machine?
    Any help will be appreciated.
  • pasha25 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    I should add:

    Privacy List Error/the item could not be added or removed because of an unknown error

    This message is displayed when I try to add backups.backupsdb to the Spotlight>Privacy pane. I have run Verify Disk as well as Repair Disk, to no avail.

    Any help will be appreciated.

  • pasha25 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Contacted Apple Support; after trying things for 14 days, I erased the Backups and made a new Backup. That worked, much like using Spotlight in the hard drive. Alas, on the 15th day, Apple Support contacted me with Terminal commands which may also have worked.

  • Koen van Dijken Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)

    I am having exact the same problems (on this Spotlight / Time Machine thing) as you are having. But I'm not willing to delete my backup and make a new one.


    Could you please post those terminal commands that Apple Support gave you in this topic?



  • pasha25 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    sudo mdutil -as > indexvolume.txt

    [Return, Password]

    sudo mdutil -E -a

    [Return, Password]



    The above will index Time Machine.

  • Koen van Dijken Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)

    Seems to work!