Shining Spotlight problems in Leopard – Updated

Spotlight is the search technology introduced in OS X Tiger 10.4. Apple has said that they have made major improvements in Spotlight, with the companies latest OS release OS X Leopard or 10.5. And it does in fact work better than in the previous release. It does its searches by indexing your hard drives files so that when you use the little magnifying glass in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Spotlight can give you email, folders, docs and pdf’s that have relevant data in them. This is a very handy feature and requires no effort by the end user to start.All things being equal, this is a great way to do this type of technology. But all things are never or in the best of times seldom equal. When I hook my very large and very full external hard drives to my notebook the bog down beginnings. When the drives are plugged in it makes something as simple as web browsing in Safari, a painful experience. I’m talking Spinning Beach Balls of Death O’Plenty. So my first reaction is “I’ll cut it off for a while and back on after my work is done.” No can do! It has no scheduling interface or OFF SWITCH. Spotlight is dragging my 2ghz macbook pro “with 2 gigs of ram” to a crawl. It always seems to be running like now as I type this blog posting. Even though the drive are not plugged in and it said is finished indexing 10 minutes ago. I’ve thought maybe it was a disk error forcing it to act this way. But it still persists after a hard drive format “Zeroing the data” and 2 system installs. Some sort of interface needs to be developed to give the user the ability to schedule or at the least suspend aka snooze the indexing process. So that people with lots of storage and earn money with there macs like myself will keep our hair and sanity intact.

Update: After experimenting with the Hard Drives. I’ve discover the best way “short of apple fixing the issue” is to hook your drives up one at a time. Let spotlight build it’s database and then hook the next one up. While it maybe a slow and really isn’t a fix. It does work and cuts down on the painfully stalls that seem to¬†accompany¬†this indexing process. Thanks to those who wrote in about their similar experiences.

5 Replies to “Shining Spotlight problems in Leopard – Updated”

  1. I have the same problems with my Macbook Pro. I thought that Leopard was a bloated mess at first. As it turns out Spotlight was constantly indexing unnecessarily. In Safari I was getting spinning beachballs every few minutes and it seemed like Spotlight was actually indexing my browser cache as it was created, causing pages to load slower.

    I added Macintosh HD to the Spotlight privacy list and now it’s like I have a whole new computer! Everything is quick. I would like to have manual indexing controls in the spotlight pref pane. For now I have Quicksilver index my home folder, and that covers most of my needs.

    I figure there is either a bug with indexing in 10.5 and 10.5.1 or my spotlight config got corrupted when I did an upgrade install….or maybe both.

  2. Hello! I too am having difficulty with spotlight searching external drives attached to a 10.5.1 server running on a mac pro. It is inconsistent in returning search information. It works OK off the internal drive.

    Any ideas? We have rebuilt the spotlight database twice now. ?

    The external drive is 5 320 GB Sata 3 disks stripped together for speed.


  3. I’m having trouble with the Spotlight database eating up all the free space on my drive…I got a “Drive almost full” dialog a bit ago, I archived close to 30 gigs of files, and literally four hours later I got the “Drive full” warning again. Enabled viewing hidden files in Finder and sorted / by size, Spotlight-VT100 was close to FIFTY GIGS (for ~300GB of files); I threw it out and rebuilt to no avail, it just keeps eating up every bit of space I have, down to less that 50 megs left on the drive, so I had to disable Spotlight altogether.

    Any Ideas?

  4. hi there! yup, it’s quite frustrating… I’m also having problems with Spotlight! I have +3200 HOURS for an estimate regarding indexing a 200Gb HD (and it’s no even “full”!!)

    No need to say I’ve cancelled it… and unloaded spotlight…. I’ve tried to rebuild the database several times, and I keep getting “crazy” amount of hours …

    if mds is running, temperature goes to +90C with fan blowing @ full speed with a sluggish computer (as CPU’s 100%), so I’ve tried to renice those processes at no luck… keeps loading back to 100% CPU… and slowing things down…

    I’d love to see TimeMachine work… but it requires spotlight…



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