Invasive Spotlight Indexing

Sympathy for anyone who has ever wondered what the heck Spotlight is doing on their Mac …

“The thoughtless design of providing no facility to defer/delay Spotlight indexing is bad enough. But to perform intensive Spotlight indexing when the user is needs the machine to perform well—that is design incompetence to the point of offensive.” – Lloyd Chambers - Invasive Spotlight Indexing Impairs Use of Your Mac

“It’s great to have tools like TimeMachineEditor, but in my opinion there should be a built-in way to restrict both Time Machine and Spotlight to only run during certain hours and to postpone them for a specified amount of time.” – Michael Tsai - Invasive Spotlight Indexing

Spotlight has been around for 18 years and indexing was a real problem when we had spinning hard drives. But today I rarely notice when my M1 MBA is indexing its SSD. But if this is still a problem for some they can schedule spotlight to index only at night with an app or with a cron job. People have been doing this for nearly two decades. Probably not a great solution for those with massive drives, but macOS still includes crontab.

“Simple solution — but designed by morons, apparently”. Morons don’t build one of the largest corporations in the world. Problems like this exist when intelligent people decide something is good enough and we choose to keep buying their products.

1 Like

The harsh language is no doubt due to frustration felt by the writer. Frustration I’ve sometimes felt.

I use the TimeMachineEditor app and would not like to be without it.

If someone can recommend a similar app for finer control of Spotlight, I’m all ears. (I use a Mac so I don’t have to futz with cron jobs anymore!)

1 Like

I understand frustration, I feel it every time I try to use Siri. AFAIK you are using the best option to futzing with cron jobs.

“Currently the best and only complete app which lets you schedule Time Machine backups when you want them is TimeMachineEditor, which is free, and includes a sophisticated scheduling feature.”

Time Machine: 10 Tools – The Eclectic Light Company

I call BS on Lloyd Chambers article. Looking at activity monitor, all those mds processes are using 1.5 processor cores in total. His Java benchmark (or what ever it is since he is complaining about not being able to accurately do performance testing and not productive use) is using 50 cores (5000%+ CPU) so MDS is only using 3% of his system. (What could that possibly be with 50+ CPU cores?)

Anyway, it must be a desktop system. Just leave it on and Spotlight will catch up and use minimal resources.

Note that while it is only using 0.1% CPU at the moment it has used over two hours since last startup. But that has been over 21 days.


I wouldn’t think that the folks who run and post results of Mac benchmarks run them with random Spotlight indexing taking place in the background.

All this dev is asking for is a little finer control of his own development machine.

He complains that when he turns it off then Spotlight doesn’t work. He is trying to have it both ways. IMHO the easiest way to disable Spotlight if you really want to is just go to preferences and Spotlight Privacy, and drag the drive into the list of locations not to search. Command line not needed.

1 Like

I’m with @tomalmy, I call BS. It’s a sensationalist article written in an inflammatory way, by an author with a whole series of other sensationalist articles under the same “Core Rot” category.

The author states, “I cannot have intensive background processing sucking up 5/6/10 CPU cores”, but the screenshot he provides does not correlate. Keeping in mind that the CPU percentage is measured 100% = 1 core, and adding up all the mds/md_worker processes, while excluding the erroneous Window Server process the author included in his circle, I get a total of 183.3% usage. Less than 2 full threads worth of usage, on what appears to be a 32 core/64 thread processor.

He also makes no mention of whether he recently connected an external drive to his Mac, how many total files he has and what his storage setup looks like, etc.

I’ve seen Spotlight have performance issues before, but this doesn’t look like it. If you want niceties like quick file search, there’s going to be a performance hit.

Tongue-in-cheek, it’s hilarious to me that he’s worried about performance while running Java.

1 Like

It’s all relative.
Not everyone can write good C++ or Objective-C code.

Don’t we all?

Try checking it immediately after boot. I don’t reboot my M1 MacBook Pro very often, but when I do, I’ve gotten used to leaving it alone for a few minutes after booting to let mds_stores do its thing. The computer is very sluggish until it’s done, and it happens on every boot.

1 Like

My recollection is that this has been an issue for those decades. Do you have an example of such an app or of how to temporarily disable it and trigger it with a cron job?

Neither way works when using Time Machine with APFS.

1 Like

As it turns out no I do not. I recall having problems with indexing/search on one of our Xserves and thought we ran a script to use mdutil to turn indexing on and off. But as I’m just been reminded that disables search. At the moment I have no idea how we solved our problem. Sorry.

I guess I’m having crow for dinner tonight.