Fix Mac Spotlight Not Searching PDFs

Fix Mac Spotlight Not Searching PDFs

Spotlight IconI received a Twitter question from awesome DocumentSnap reader (and awesome sculptor) Carol Griffin. She had a strange issue – after she upgraded to Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks, her scanned PDFs were not being indexed by Spotlight, and therefore she could not find them via search.

After trying some 140 character-at-a-time troubleshooting (“Are the PDFs on an external drive?” “Are the PDFs actually OCRed?”), she managed to fix the problem herself and I thought it was interesting enough to post.

Her solution came from this Apple article, and was basically:

  • Open the Spotlight privacy window.
  • Drag your hard drive to that window, telling Spotlight you don’t want your drive indexed at all.
  • Remove the drive you just dragged in from the list.

Seems weird, but this gives Spotlight the kick in the you-know-what to re-index your entire drive. After a while (it may take hours), Carol was good to go, as were many others who have had this issue.

If you find that Spotlight isn’t indexing PDFs that you think it should, this might do the trick. Thanks for sharing, Carol!

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 1 comment

Carol - May 20, 2014 Reply

You’re very welcome, Brooks. Thanks again for your help with troubleshooting this problem. Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply: