I really want to like Spotlight in 10.4. In theory it should be great: instant access to any file or app by typing a few words. In practice it’s sluggish as hell, making it almost unusable for me. Here’s how I tend to use Spotlight:
- Click the Spotlight icon.
- Start typing the name of the file I’m looking for.
- After typing about 5 letters, Spotlight locks up with a spinning beach ball for 30 seconds, then slowly starts to produce results.
- Meanwhile, I switch to the Finder and end up manually finding the file I was after before Spotlight has even finished telling me where it is.
To make matters worse, I recently bought a backup hard drive. Spotlight has decided this would be great fun to index, even though I don’t want it to. Here’s what I see practically every day:
Not only is this indexing unwanted, but it slows down my Mac for those 19 hours, and slows down Spotlight itself even further (if such a thing is possible).
I was chuffed to find that you could exclude a volume from Spotlight indexing as follows:
- Go to System Prefs > Spotlight.
- Click the “Privacy” tab (surely “Performance” would be more appropriate!).
- Drag the Backup volume from a Finder window to the list below the “Privacy” tab – but make sure you drag the actual volume icon (in Go > Computer in Finder) and not the alias in the shortcuts bar on the left, or Finder helpfully deletes the alias instead, with a cute little “whoosh” noise.
- Close System Prefs. This makes Spotlight stop indexing the Backup volume. Hurrah!
Unmount then remount the hard drive (by rebooting, or by power cycling the drive – something I do at least once a week) and Spotlight forgets that it wasn’t supposed to be indexing the Backup volume, and starts all over again. Back to square 1! So every few days I find myself dragging that god-damn Backup volume into System Prefs.
Surely there has to be a better way! I know I can turn off Spotlight completely (sudo vi /etc/hostconfig and change “SPOTLIGHT=-YES-” to “SPOTLIGHT=-NO-”), but I do occasionally find Spotlight useful for those times when I just can’t remember the name of a file.
I have heard that Spotlight is much snappier in Leopard. I hope that’s true, and I also hope that you can reliably exclude volumes from being indexed. Which reminds me – I really must upgrade to Leopard soon, mustn’t I. I’m just scared of it breaking all my apps!