thanks so much. this totally helped. only thing: I dragged to desktop, rebooted, spotlight works fine. But what do I do with the com.apple.spotlight.plist file that's still on the desktop? I was afraid to delete it, so I just dragged it back to the folder and checked to make sure spotlight was still working, which it was. is that the right thing to do? Seems counterintuitive to put it back; I would think I should delete it, but I'm not sure what the consequences of that would be.Alternatively, try rebuilding the Spotlight index by going to System Preferences, clicking on Spotlight, clicking on the Privacy tab, adding your hard drive to the list and closing System Preferences. Now, follow the same routine but this time remove your hard drive from the list. It'll take a little while to reindex.
If that doesn't work, then go to your Preferences folder and drag a file named com.apple.spotlight.plist to the Desktop, then restart.
Strangely enough, no. I expected it to ask me that. If it did I would have felt more comfortable tossing the old one on the desktop. I don't get itYou can delete it if you like. When you dragged it back into the folder, did it ask to replace a similarly-named file?