Manage the metadata stores used by Spotlight.

      mdutil [-pEsav] [-i on | off] volume ...


   -E  This flag will cause each local store for the volumes indicated to be
       erased. The stores will be rebuilt if appropriate (if they contain files).

   -i on | off
       Set the indexing status for the provided volumes to on or off.  Note
       that indexing can be delayed due to low disk space or other conditions.

   -p  Purge network cache. Spotlight caches indexes of some network devices locally.
       This option requests that all local caches be flushed to the appropriate
       network device.

   -s  Display the indexing status of the listed volumes.

   -a  Apply command to all volumes.

   -v  Print verbose information when available.

To get a list of the available attributes for use in constructing queries, see mdimport(1), particularly the -X switch.


Show the indexing status of the root volume:

$ mdutil -s /

Erase and rebuild the spotlight index, this will often fix missing metadata in Finder after an OS upgrade:

$ mdutil -E /

Prevent spotlight from indexing all devices:

$ sudo mdutil -a -i off

“After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery. It's better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life” ~ Sophia Loren

Related macOS commands

find - Search for files that meet a desired criteria.
mdfind - Spotlight search.
mdimport - Import file hierarchies into the Spotlight datastore.
mdls - List the metadata attributes for a specified file.
HT201716 - Rebuild the Spotlight index (System Preferences ➞ Spotlight ➞ Privacy).

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