Context searches within Spotlight

Big Ron

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 7, 2012
United Kingdom
Does anyone know if Spotlight searches within files?


  • I know I have a document on my Mac somewhere, but can't remember where iv'e filed it.
  • No problem I can remember using a particular word (ISO 9001 if anyones interested)
  • After a long pause Spotlight found nothing:eek::eek:
Am i doing anything wrong/should I tick an option box?

Coming from a PC I know there is additional software that can acheive what I want to do but I can't beleive that Spotlight is so dumb. :confused:

Does it look into pdf's?



macrumors 6502
Oct 18, 2012
Spotlight will search for text within PDFs if PDFs are checked in Spotlight Preferences.


macrumors 6502
Jan 3, 2011
Basically, Spotlight is pretty awesome and works fine all day and night, it's not dumb. But Spotlight does only search in indexed files and folders on your hard drive(s). It might be possible, that your file has not been indexed by Spotlight yet. You can achieve a reindexing of your hard drive(s) by doing the following steps.

  1. Open Preferences app and choose the Spotlight item
  2. Add the hard drives you would like to have a new index to the private folder list
  3. Quit Preferences, open it again and delete your hard drives from the private list again.

Spotlight will reindex the hard drives and their entire content now. This could solve your problem.