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Mar 1, 2011

Mac Snow Leopard random freezing and Spotlight

Since upgrading to Snow Leopard (10.6.6) from Leopard (10.5.8) last week I have been experiencing random system freezes which have left me waiting for 30 second bursts every 20 minutes or so.
This has finally become too annoying so I took some time out from work to find out what was causing it and, more importantly, sort it out.

Basically it turns out that Spotlight has been causing this problem (or so it appears).

Thanks to a user on the apple forum from a couple of years ago, I have been able to resolve the issue.
The user (svener888) suggested that it was being caused by Spotlight. Here is what they suggested:

1. Disable Spotlight “sudo mdutil -a -i off”
2. Change the preferences of Spotlight to only index (Applications, Folders and Documents)
3. Enable Spotlight again “sudo mdutil -a -i on”

That was amazingly simple and, so far, touch wood, etc. it appears to have worked. My system hasn’t frozen again and all is well.
On top of that, I also have regained a further 10GB+ of space!!!!!! (on top of the 60GB that I regained on upgrading to Snow Leopard itself) It is amazing how much Spotlight uses! I am actually considering turning it off all together as to be honest I never use it.


  • Several days have now passed since I basically reset Spotlight and adjusted it’s settings.
    I have not had a single “freeze” since so this was definitely the problem.

  • YAY! My boss’s mac was running super slooow and it was probably from indexing megazillion emails. I disabled spotlight indexing and it no longer pinwheels constantly. Happy dance.

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