Disabling Spotlight under Mac OS X [updated]

If like me you're not a fan of Spotlight and want to disable it completely then you can hese simple steps.

I've provided steps for each of the following flavours of Mac OS X -- Tiger (10.4), Leopard (10.5), Snow Leopard (10.6), Lion (10.7) and Mountain Lion (10.8).

[updated] Added steps for Mac OS X Mavericks (10.9) and Yosemite (10.10).

In Mac OS X Tiger (10.4)

Disable Spotlight
  1. Launch terminal and type the following:
    $ sudo nano /etc/hostconfig
  2. Locate the string SPOTLIGHT= using arrow keys
  3. Change
    SPOTLIGHT=-YES-
    to
    SPOTLIGHT=-NO-
  4. Save /etc/hostconfig by pressing Control-O and the return key, next press Control-X to exit the text editor.
  5. Next, you need to disable the index by typing the following in the terminal:
    $ mdutil -i off /
  6. And to erase the current Spotlight index, type:
    $ mdutil -E /
  7. Reboot your macbook pro. spotlight will be completeely disabled.
Re-Enable Spotlight
  1. Launch terminal and type the following:
    $ sudo nano /etc/hostconfig
  2. Locate the string SPOTLIGHT= using arrow keys
  3. Change
    SPOTLIGHT=-NO-
    to
    SPOTLIGHT=-YES-
  4. Save /etc/hostconfig by pressing Control-O and the return key, next press Control-X to exit the text editor.
  5. and then type in the terminal:
    $ mdutil -i on /
  6. Reboot, and spotlight is back as usual

In Mac OS X Leopard (10.5)

Disable Spotlight

To turn off Spotlight in Leopard, use the following

  1. Move these two files to another safe location, and then reboot your mac
    /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Spotlight,plist
    /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
Re-Enable Spotlight
  1. Re-enable Spotlight by moving those files back to their original location, reboot, and Spotlight will function again

In Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6)

Disable Spotlight
  1. Disabling Spotlight in Snow Leopard is pretty easy, launch a terminal and type the following:
    $ sudo mdutil -a -i off
Re-Enable Spotlight
  1. Re-enabling Spotlight in Mac OS X 10.6 is just as easy, just reverse the command to:
    $ sudo mdutil -a -i on

In Mac OS X Lion (10.7) and Mac OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)

Disable Spotlight
  1. The primary method is using launchctl
    $ sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
Re-Enable Spotlight
  1. Te gaurenteed way to reenable Spotlight is to reload it using launchctl:
    $ sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist

In Mac OS X Mavericks (10.9) and Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10)

Disable Spotlight
  1. The primary method is using launchctl
    $ sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
Re-Enable Spotlight
  1. To re-enable Spotlight, just simply reload it using launchctl:
    $ sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist