How to prevent Spotlight from indexing files

How to prevent Spotlight from indexing files

In addition to using Spotlight’s privacy list, a simple name extension
can keep Spotlight from indexing specific files and folders.

Apple’s Spotlight search technology is a quick way to find files,
applications, contacts, and numerous other items on your system, but
there are times when you might like to keep some things from being
indexed and included in search results.

For example, if you have a collection of outdated program versions in
a folder called “past versions,” you might wish to keep Spotlight from
showing them all, and only have it locate the most recent one that you
use. This might also be true for temporary files you have on your
system, such as those in the Downloads folder.

For more static locations on the system such as the Downloads folder,
you can add these to the Spotlight privacy list in the Spotlight system
preferences (either by dragging and dropping, or by using the plus
button at the bottom of the list), and they should be excluded from
Spotlight’s indexing routines.


Folder prevented from being indexed by Spotlight
With the extension “noindex” included, this
folder and its contents will not be indexed by Spotlight.

While easy enough to do, if you are in the middle of a routine in the
Finder and only want to temporarily disable indexing for a file or
folder, you can do that, too. Recently OSXDaily outlined an interesting tip,
in which you can force Spotlight to ignore a specific file or folder by
simply adding a special extension to its name. Simply select an item in
the Finder and press Enter to edit its name, and then add “.noindex” to
the end, and you should now have a resource that is not indexed by

Undoing this change simply requires removing the extension, and the item will then be indexed.

This feature may seem unnecessary for some in the face of graphical
options like the Spotlight system preferences, but in addition to
quickly excluding files on the fly, it also has benefits for those who
use the Terminal either locally or remotely, where you do not have
access to the system preferences.

The one problem with this tip is that altering file extensions may
break the system’s ability to recognize and use them, so it may not
always be practical for use with files; however, when used with folders
it may offer a quicker way to prevent spotlight indexing for any
enclosed items.


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