Spotlight is a great search tool built right into OS X. It’s way better than the new Windows 7 search, which if you have ever used, sucks pretty bad. Spotlight can search everything from your email to your calendar to your chats, in addition to system files and folders. Two questions I commonly get about Spotlight on OS X is how to exclude a folder from the search and how to reindex a folder. Both of these go hand in hand.

First, I’ll walk you through the process of removing a folder/directory from Spotlight search. This is really useful if you have a folder with a large amount of data that doesn’t need to be searched on, such as a folder containing virtual machine files.

To start, go to System Preferences and click on Spotlight.


By default, you’ll see the Search Results tab. Here you can choose what you want to include in the Spotlight search.

spotlight search

We want to click on the Privacy tab. This is where you can add folders to remove from the Spotlight index.

remove folder spotlight

Go ahead and click on the + button at the bottom left and select the folder you want to exclude. As you can see here, I have excluded the Virutal Machines folder that is created by VMWare Fusion. This saves me a lot of CPU processing as that folder contains gigabytes worth of data that I will never need to search on.

So that’s ┬áit! You have removed a directory from the Spotlight search. So how is this connected to reindexing a folder in Spotlight? Well, if you want Spotlight to reindex something, all you do is remove it by adding it to the Privacy tab, exiting and then simply removing it from the Privacy tab. When you remove it, Spotlight will re-index the contents of that folder. Pretty simple!

Note that on the Search Results tab, you can also change the Spotlight keyboard shortcut at the very bottom:

keyboard shortcut

There’s not much else to Spotlight other than that, so if you have any other questions, feel free to post a comment! Enjoy!