How To Completely Disable Mac OS X Spotlight

One of the primary features of the Mac OS X operating system is their search feature called Spotlight. Many Mac OS X users depend on this great feature but others don’t find it necessary. For those of you who don’t find it necessary, it can improve the performance of your Mac OS X system if you disable it.

To do this, follow these simple steps.

Note that some other Mac OS X features and programs are based on Spotlight’s search abilities, therefore some applications could behave abnormally if you disable Spotlight, particularly in search functions.

Important: These instructions were created based on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. They may work on previous or future versions of OS X but they may not.

  1. Launch Terminal and type the following command: sudo nano /etc/hostconfig
  2. Find the following entry in the hostconfig file: SPOTLIGHT=-YES-
  4. Save /etc/hostconfig by hitting Control-O and the return key. Next hit Control-X to exit the nano editor.
  5. Disable the Spotlight index by typing the following in the Terminal:
    sudo mdutil -i off /
  6. To erase the current Spotlight index, type: sudo mdutil -E /
  7. When you reboot, Spotlight will be completely disabled.

If you find a need for Spotlight later, follow my article on How To Re-enable Mac OS X Spotlight.