Spotlight issues: search within files isn't working. (Help!)


macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 29, 2007
Hi, all,

Spotlight under Lion is being an incredibly frustrating part of the OS right now. (Seriously, this whole upgrade has not made me happy.)

I want to search within files. In particular, I want to search for items with tags I embedded into them, in the Twitter style. (I'm an historian, so I'd write #revolution1917, for example, by a source for the Russian Revolution.)

I go to the Finder to search, because Spotlight in the upper right is apparently too stupid to handle searches within files.

I enter a kind of document (plain text) to narrow down my search.

I even select the folder where the documents are located, to help Spotlight out.

I hit the plus, set up "Contents" contain, and type, "#revolution1917" (minus quotes).

....and I get nothing.

I take off the hashmark, just to see if that's causing some kind of problem.


I'm so frustrated with this (and all the other little Lion problems) that I am close to crying.

Can anyone please offer any advice or consolation to deal with this?

Thanks for listening!

(2010 i7 MPB, by the way.)


Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
It doesn't appear that Spotlight can search within files. But I found this app online that will. I've not tried it myself, but it may be of help to you.



macrumors 68030
Apr 13, 2011
Has your copy of spotlight been given sufficient time to rebuild it's index of the HD yet?
Mine has, and it finds bits of text within files just fine.


macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 29, 2007
Thank you both for responding! And thanks for the tip about the app--I might just check that out. I know Spotlight *can* search within files--I just did a contents search in Snow Leopard on my mother's older MacBook and SL found the files I wanted in a couple of seconds, despite them being newer (downloaded from Dropbox.)

Overall, I'm not sure what's happening here. My MBP *should* have had enough time to finish indexing--I had it on several hours on Lion day and the next day. (Interrupted by a visit to the Apple Store for a suspected hardware issue.)

Here's an idea: Maybe something went wonky with my indexing, because my computer had 4 crashes requiring entire computer reboot in the aftermath of installing Lion?

(Apple just replaced my logic board as the suspected cause of the crashes.)
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