Ask Max: Can Spotlight catalog everything on a hard drive?
Isn't there a way to get Spotlight to catalog everything on the hard drive? Does it just do it automatically in the background?
For the most part, Spotlight is always active but it only indexes your drive at scheduled times. You can tell it is building an index of your hard drive if there is a blinking white dot in the center of Spotlight's magnifying glass icon. It is possible to have Spotlight ignore areas of your drive or types of files. In System Preferences, there is a Spotlight section. The "Search Results" tab shows you the type of files found by Spotlight so for the most results you should have everything checked. The "Privacy" tab is where things will be excluded from Spotlight searches. Anything in the list will be excluded, so for the most results you should have nothing listed there. Other than those changes, Spotlight should find everything your user account can see. Hidden or locked files will not show up for you.