Disabling Spotlight in Sierra?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Texas_Toast, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. Texas_Toast macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #1
    A friend told me that if privacy matters to me that I should disable Mac's Spotlight app.

    I have also read a few places where Spotlight supposedly sends info about your hardd-rive to Apple?

    First of all, is this true?

    Secondly, how would I completely disable Spotlight so it doesn't give out all of my info?

    Finally, will completely disabling Spotlight break my Mac or any apps on it?
     
  2. kohlson macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    If you want to disable Spotlight: SysPrefs-Spotlight; privacy tab. "+" and select your entire drive.

    Depending on how you use Spotlight on your Mac, it may or may not break your workflow. But shouldn't break any apps.

    For added protection, buy BBQ-class tinfoil. Just kidding - you can't be too careful ...
     
  3. Eric5h5 macrumors 68020

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    #3
    If you want actual information about Spotlight and how it involves the internet, bring up the Spotlight preferences pane and click on the "About Spotlight Suggestions & Privacy" button.

    --Eric
     
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G4

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    #4
    Since it first appeared, I have disabled Spotlight on all my Macs.

    I didn't want it running in the background, especially on the Mac I was using for recording live audio.

    I find that without Spotlight, things just go faster. But perhaps that's just me.

    Spotlight is easily turned off using the terminal:
    sudo mdutil -a -i off

    This command stops indexing of ALL volumes:
    sudo defaults write /.Spotlight-V100/VolumeConfiguration Exclusions -array "/Volumes"

    This command removes the Spotlight index from main volume:
    sudo rm -rf /.Spotlight-V100/*

    The menu icon will still "be there", but after doing the above, Spotlight will no longer be lurking in the background.
     
  5. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

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    #5
    This. Your friend is spreading FUD. I have only Bing turned off. I use Spotlight as an app launcher as well as file searcher and find it indispensable. Also, I suggest editing your title.
     
  6. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #6
    @Fishrrman,

    I'm not sure I understand the difference between those 3 commands?
    --- Post Merged, Oct 7, 2017 ---
    I don't think @Fishrrman is talking FUD. I created this thread because I am sick of companies spying on me!!


    MODS: Can someone please fix the Subject Line and change it to "Disabling Spotlight in Sierra"
     
  7. Eric5h5 macrumors 68020

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    #7
    Mr_Brightside is referring to your friend who is misinforming you, not Fishrrman. Just disable the two suggestions checkboxes, then you can continue to use Spotlight without any data being transmitted anywhere. Again, bring up the Spotlight preferences pane and click on the "About Spotlight Suggestions & Privacy" button. Then you can get actual information about what is happening and what to do, and not be reliant on misinformation/FUD.

    --Eric
     
  8. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #8
    I'm not sure what Apple does in 2017, but I have read several articles that screamed about how Apple was abusing customers' privacy with Spotlight in Yosemite. (If Apple sinned in the past I wouldn't trust them with Sierra or High Sierra either!)

    In addition to Apple's sneaky activities, I have also read that using the GUI you mention won't protect your info if you have external drives plugged into your Mac.

    Lastly, as @Fishrrman mentioned, a lot of people complain how Spotlight hurts performance.

    I tried Googling the commands that Fishrrman mentioned but couldn't find any supporting info. Hopefully he responds back to me.

    There was one article I read last week that said if you disable Spotlight via Terminal as Fishrrman mentioned, it could break how Time Machine and the Apple Store works. Is that true? (I don't use Time Machine, but I might need to use the Apple Store sometime.)
     
  9. Eric5h5 macrumors 68020

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    #9
    Apple has stuck their necks out in favor of privacy a number of times, which you've seen if you've followed the news at all. They make money by selling hardware that has a profit margin, not user data. Spotlight doesn't hurt performance, other than the first time it indexes a disk. The GUI checkboxes I mentioned are global settings and apply to everything. You should know better than to pay attention to articles that "scream" about things...go with facts over clickbait FUD.

    --Eric
     
  10. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #10
    Are you telling me that there is no additional benefit to following @Fishrrman commands in Terminal versus using the GUI in System Preferences from a privacy standpoint? As mentioned, I have read from a few reliable sources (e.g. Stack Exchange) that while the GUI should protect the folder you move into "Private", it won't include things like an external backup disk or thumbdrive. (At least not unless you manually add them each time.)

    If Fishrrman's suggestion do all that the GUI approach does and more, then why not use it?

    Also, are you denying that Apple used Spotlight to send user's data to Apple, Microsoft and other 3rd party companies??

    I can't say if they do that today, but they were in the news with Yosemite over that.


    P.S. I do watch what Apple does, and it is abundently clear to me (and others) that Tim Cooke couldn't give a flying flip about Apple customer's security or privacy... :rolleyes:
     
  11. Eric5h5 macrumors 68020

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    #11
    OK, so if you already made up your mind ahead of time and are just going to argue about anything contrary, why bother asking things like "is it true?" Why not just say "I wanna disable Spotlight, how?" You're clearly not bothering to read anything I write or do what I suggest (which would have answered most of your questions), so this is a big waste of time. Have fun.

    --Eric
     
  12. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #12
    No, you haven't read what has been said in this thread. And you are the one that has convinced yourself this thread is FUD...
    --- Post Merged, Oct 8, 2017 ---
    @Fishrrman,

    Not sure that I understand your recommendation.

    Am I supposed to run all commands #1, #2, and #3 above?

    Or are #1 and #2 competing commands?


    And is it correct that I need to run #1 and/or #2 to turn off SPotlight, but then I also have to run command #3 to erase anything that was already stored on my hard-drive?

    I spent all yesterday online trying to research these commands, but they seem to be proprietary to you!
     
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G4

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    #13
    "Am I supposed to run all commands #1, #2, and #3 above?
    Or are #1 and #2 competing commands?"


    I used them all.
    I want Spotlight gone, gone, gone from my Macs.
    ... and that should do it.
     
  14. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #14
    So how can I prove to myself that Spotlight and any indexes from Spotlight are truly gone?

    You seem like a whiz with Unix and command-line, so it might be natural to you, but that is not an area where I am strong.

    For me, it would be nice if I could somehow "see" that those commands actually permanently did what I wanted, because it would really such if I thought Spotlight was off when it wasn't!


    By the way, when I ran the first command, I got this...
    Code:
    /:
    2017-10-08 08:15:50.111 mdutil[53470:886781] mdutil disabling Spotlight: / -> kMDConfigSearchLevelFSSearchOnly Indexing disabled.
    

    When I ran the second command, I just got the command prompt.

    And when I ran the third command, I also just got the command prompt.


    I suppose the results look okay, but I am paranoid that maybe Spotlight is still lurking in the background unbeknownst to me!!
     
  15. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

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    #15
    That means they worked.
     
  16. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #16
    Is there any way to tell from a more outward way?

    As Fishrrman mentioned, Spotlight still appears, so I'm not sure if it is disabled. In fact, since I have never used Spotlight, I don't know how to tell if it is working normally.

    I do know that I don't want anything emailed to Apple, Microsoft or anyone else!
     
  17. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

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    #17
    I offer you my personal guarantee that that's not happening. Try to use Spotlight and post the results.

    That said, @Fishrrman likely has more info than me.
     
  18. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #18
    To be honest, I don't really understand how Spotlight works, thus why I am asking "How do I know it isn't working?"

    What exactly is the difference between Spotlight and just searching your hard-drive for a file?

    Is there a difference?

    I have always assumed that with Spotlight disabled, I would still be able to go into Finder and do a basic or advanced search... Am I right or wrong about that?

    (And FWIW, I do like being able to search for files on my hard-drive. What I don't like is macOS sending my personal data to Apple, Microsoft and other companies for their nefarious intentions! And just knowing that Apple would do that in the past and maybe still now makes me say, "F*** Apple and F*** Spotlight!!")

    Anyways, can someone help me understand if Spotlight and basic searching in Finder are the same or different beasts?

    Thanks!
     
  19. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

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    #19
    I'm going to post some links here, I hope they help:

    https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT204014

    Here, Spotlight seems tied to Find:
    https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT201732
    I am not sure if this is the case, so try performing a Find in Finder after running @Fishrrman's terminal commands.

    Please read these I think you'll find them helpful:
    https://www.wired.com/2014/10/how-to-fix-os-x-yosemite-search/
    https://www.howtogeek.com/224344/how-to-disable-spotlights-web-searches-on-mac-iphone-and-ipad/
     
  20. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 31, 2015
    #20
    Finder search is using the Spotlight index, it wont work when Spotlight is disabled. Personally it would be best if Apple created new "Spotlight 2" with internet search etc. and returned Spotlight back to local search. Ever since Apple added internet search in Yosemite Spotlight has been less reliable than previous versions, I'm not saying adding internet search is the reason for the problem but adding more features to software tend to make it more complex and hard to spot the bugs...

    As for disabling Spotlight according to mdutil MAN page Spotlight should be disabled and index removed for all volumes with this command: mdutil - Eda -i off

    If Spotlight isn't working for you EasyFind might be a good substitute, it is quite fast given that it isn't using index like Spotlight is.
     
  21. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #21
    @Mr_Brightside_@

    Thank you for the links. I will admit that the Wired article provides better context, yet I still don't trust big companies including Apple.


    @Fishrrman after running your commands above, when I go into Finder and click on the magnifying glass (i.e. Spotlight) and start typing in a word I get a listing of 20 files on my hard-drive...

    If your commands were supposed to completely cripple Spotlight, then why does it appear to still be working?
     
  22. Fishrrman macrumors G4

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    #22
    "after running your commands above, when I go into Finder and click on the magnifying glass (i.e. Spotlight) and start typing in a word I get a listing of 20 files on my hard-drive..."

    I noticed this too, not long ago.

    Seems like even when it's turned off, Spotlight is still "linked" somehow to "local apps" like the Dictionary and Thesaurus.

    I can run the following command:
    sudo mdutil -a -i off
    ... and terminal reports that indexing is OFF on all my volumes.

    Then,
    I open Spotlight and type "test"
    A window opens with "All", "Dictionary", "Thesaurus", "Apple", "Wikipedia"

    Dictionary is selected as the default (guessing it's from local dictionary).
    Thesaurus has an entry (again, probably from local disk)
    I click "All" -- shows Dictionary entry, Thesaurus entry, and wiki page (perhaps it's grabbing this through Safari somehow).
    When I click "Apple" -- "no entries found".
    Click "Wikipedia" -- reveals wikipedia page, again, looks like it's getting this from the Safari engine and perhaps passing that on through "QuickLook"?

    From the above, it looks like Spotlight is NOT "searching from the indexes", but is instead looking at "non-indexed" sources: the dictionary app, thesaurus, and going online to wiki (again, via Safari).

    As such, it's had its functionality (for lack of a better term) "downgraded", but not entirely "turned off".

    There may be a way to disable it further, but I don't see that in the list of terminal commands (accessible via the "man" command).

    Looks like the disabling of "indexing" is as "far as it goes".
     
  23. chown33, Oct 16, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017

    chown33 macrumors 604

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    Aug 9, 2009
    #23
    Regarding the parts I marked in bold:
    I'm pretty sure the Dictionary.app lets you choose which references will be searched. This is (or was) done in Dictionary's Preferences window, where there's a checkbox next to each available reference.

    The dictionaries are available as a service with a program interface:
    https://developer.apple.com/library...s.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40006152-CH5-SW1

    This means any program can ask the Dictionary Service to look things up and get back definitions. This doesn't go through Safari or the Safari engine, as far as I know.
     
  24. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #24
    @Fishrrman,


    What OS are you running?



    Just so you don't think I'm lazy, here is what my research has found...

    1.) I didn't know the difference between Spotlight and Search in Finder!!!!!! :oops: (Now you know why I asked y'all to explain Spotlight to me!

    2.) When I open a new Finder window and do command + F and then choose "Name" "matches" ".png" I get a million hits.

    3.) Any searches I do by "Name" or "Contents" seem to only return files on my Mac.

    4.) I re-ran your three commands to be certain they were in place...
    5.) Once I finally figure out how to use Spotlight (i.e. magnifying glass in the menu bar) I did some searches and keep getting "No Results"

    6.) Then I tried "apple.com" and it launched Firefox and I got some url dealing with Safari plugs on Apple's site?

    I figured this meant Spotlight was still alive, and then I rebooted. I tried searching for "apple" and "apple.com" and got the same results.

    Then I looked in Safari and Firefox trying to disable something to prevent Firefox from launching.

    I rebooted again, and typed in "microsoft.com" and got "No Results". Then I tried "apple.com" and got "No Results".

    I fiddled with unchecking Safari > Search > Include Safari Suggestions and tried rebooting and experimented some more.

    In the end, I cannot get "apple", "apple.com", "google.com" or anything else to launch either Safari or FireFox. (Even when I restored Safari to it's original settings.)

    7.) Anything I search for in Spotlight seems to yield "No Results", so it appears that I successfully disable Spotlight, but who knows for sure?!


    P.S. Forgot to mentioned that before I typed in @Fishrrman's commands into Terminal, I went to System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results and unchecked everything. I also noticed that after I ran Fishrrman's commands, that "Volumes" appeared under the "Privacy" tab. (This is consistent with advice of what I read online for how to disable Spotlight using the GUI versus via Terminal.)

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this...

    I am also curious what OS you are running and what your thoughts are on why your attempts to disable Spotlight apparently didn't work...

    Thanks.
     

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