The Big Think

June 19, 2007

Lost Without My Spotlight

Filed under: Mac OS X Crashes — jasony @ 12:15 pm

Apple, in their infinite wisdom, removed standard searching in OS X. Under the new system, called Spotlight, the computer looks at every single file you have, then adds it to a universal database index. It can take several hours to index a big drive the first time, but once it’s done it’s very easy to just search the index. You can also search inside many types of files, so you could look for instances of certain keywords within a file. Pretty cool. In theory.

The problem comes when, for obscure Unix/OS X reasons, Spotlight refuses to index the drive at all. When this happens there is no index to search, no files to look through, and no way to find a lost file on your hard drives short of looking through every folder. No way.

This is a MAJOR problem for me, and is the latest of a slew of crazy, unacceptable, “it shouldn’t happen in OS X” problems I’ve been having with this busted OS. Even after a complete clean reinstall I’m having issues. If Spotlight won’t index the drive, the OS doesn’t give you a fallback search function. In other words, you’re screwed.

So Google it! Oh, believe me, I did. I looked all over the place for solutions (it seems other people have had related problems). The best I can do is to delete the current “index file” (only a few K) and force Spotlight to reindex. When I do that, Spotlight takes three or four minutes to get its stuff together and then promptly quits indexing. Actually, it says it’s done, but you can’t search for so much as the letter “A” in Spotlight. No results. So it’s creating some kind of index, but it doesn’t have any useful data in it.

May be related: Every 5 seconds or so I get a new message in the console that says:

G4-MDD mdimportserver[335]: sniffer can’t check in… 1102

G4-MDD is the name of the computer and the number in brackets increments each time. The 1102 stays the same. I think it’s related somehow because “mdimport” is the name appended to files that are used in defining Spotlight searches. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

Again… this is a brand new install of the OS. As far as I know, it has clean preferences and apps. Where do you go when Apple and Google fail you?

*Update* I got tired of trying to solve this annoying problem and just downloaded EasyFind. It’s a Spotlight replacement that doesn’t need to index the drive. Good Old-Skool searching. Downside: it’s an app that needs to run all the time (and takes time to boot at startup). Upside: unlike Spotlight, it works.

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