HOWTO: Re-Index the Spotlight Index on a Mac

Image of Spotlight search tool

The file search tool Spotlight on Macs is a fast flexible way to find files, except when it isn't.  Occasionally Spotlight does not find files I know are on my Mac and the index needs to be repaired.  

To force Spotlight to delete an old index and create a new one:

  1. Click the Privacy tab.
  2. Drag the folder or disk that you want to index again to the list of locations that Spotlight is prevented from searching. Or click the Add (+) button and select the folder or disk to add.
  3. Choose Apple menu () > System Preferences, then click Spotlight.
  4. To add an item to the Privacy tab, you must have ownership permissions for that item. To learn about permissions, choose Help from the Finder menu bar, then search for “permissions.”
  5. From the same list of locations, select the folder or disk that you just added. Then click the Remove (–) button to remove it from the list.
  6. Quit System Preferences. Spotlight will reindex the contents of the folder or disk.  This can take a long time.