How to Make Spotlight Be Fast Again

I’ve been using Tiger since about an hour after it was released.

When I first got it, spotlight was a total gem. It was super quick and found things I never thought it could find.

I typed in my first daughters name and instantly got back all kinds of stuff including all of my most recent tax returns. When clicking on one of the tax returns it took me to her name listed as a dependent.

That’s just too cool.

It’s been a while since then now and spotlight has started to get extremely annoyingly slow and filled with total crap. No mater what I searched for I got back tons of source code files and bookmarks.

My wife uses my old iMac and it was still blazingly fast at spotlight. Much faster than my nice new -ish PowerBook 12.

I used to work at a place where I had just massive gobs of email that I needed to save for searching through later.

I’m thinking that spotlight still had the index of all that old stuff. I’m just guessing though.

I did this, and it made it fast again

  1. Open your spotlight prefs
  2. Choose the privacy tab
  3. Drag in your /Developer folder
  4. Drag in everything that you’ll never actually search for with spotlight
  5. Drag in all of your mounted Hard Drive volumes
  6. Log out or reset or something
  7. Log back in (doi)
  8. Open your spotlight prefs (again)
  9. Remove all the Hard Drive volumes
  10. Spotlight should start reindexing them shortly

As always, your milage may vary.

You might not have to log out or reboot. You might have to do it a couple times. I’m not sure.

Basically, the principal should be…

Don’t let spotlight see anything that you don’t want to search for

I know that that’s a pretty basic idea. But it just never occurred to me to actually think about it. Someone in the ##textmate irc channel clued me in. Thanks i-forget-your-name_!