to commonly asked questions.


Mail search not working.

The search in my mail isn't working.

I get asked about this quite often. The Mac's mail search does seem to break down quite often. It's tied to spotlight so if the spotlight index fails, then search overall across your computer will be ineffective. Let's look at a few things to try to kickstart your mail's search feature back to functional.

1. Rebuild your mailbox. To do so, in the Mail application, select the your inbox then under the word "Mailbox" in the menu bar, at the bottom choose "rebuild". That may fix the issue. However, keep in mind you won't see a progress indicator so you won't have any way of knowing when it's done rebuilding. I'd give it an hour or more then see if search has started working again. You'll need to run the rebuild for each inbox you have. In other words, if you have three accounts like gmail, aol, iCloud then select each and run each separately.

2. Rebuild the entire spotlight index. I've found this to be the most effective way to get mail's search back again. First, click on the spotlight icon in the menu bar and do a simple search for something you know is related to mail like someone's name you've recently corresponded with. You should get results ranging from web searches, documents on your computer and email. If you don't see any email results then that's a very good indicator this will do the trick. Here's how to rebuild the index.
A. The Easiest way to try first: Open system preferences and go to the Spotlight pane. Uncheck the Mail and messages checkbox, restart your computer, then go right back and recheck them again. Wait about an hour.

If that doesn't resolve Mail search then we use the Nuclear option.

B: The Nuclear Option: System preferences/Spotlight…now select Privacy. Drag your entire Hard Drive icon into the window therefore adding it to the Privacy list. Restart. Now return to the same area and remove it from the list by using the minus button at the bottom left. Wait an hour.

Your mail search should now work.

Still not working or would rather someone else do it, schedule a session. There are other things we can do but those require a bit more technical surgery.

How to reindex the drive to improve search results in Spotlight

Good morning Scotty. Silly question… on my desktop- I searched saved documents by clicking on magnifying glass and typing in the name I had saved documents under. Now when I search - it gives me definitions, Siri knowledge and websites.

Has something changed?
How do I retrieve documents that I have saved?

If the document is on the computer and the drive has been indexed then it will appear in the spotlight search results however it may be lower than you're looking. Spotlight can include a bunch of silly search results nobody actually cares about. To turn those off, go to system preferences/spotlight then uncheck any of the search items you'd like to exclude. If that doesn't help bring the more accurate results to the top then the drive may not be fully indexed. To re index the drive, go back to system preferences/spotlight and select "privacy" at the top. Add the entire hard drive to the privacy list. Restart your computer, then remove it from that list. It will force a re indexing of the entire drive. Usually takes about an hour but your search results will improve.
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