Fixing email search in El Capitan,

published at 5:03pm on 03/10/16

We’re going to file this under “pedestrian blog posts just so I don’t forget how I did something in the past.”

The Problem

When I upgraded my computer (from Mountain Lion!) to El Capitan, everything went relatively smoothly except that I lost the ability to actually search my email in Apple’s included Mail program. There were a number of suggestions I found online, many of which I tried, but the one that actually made the difference was to re-index my machine.

The Solution

The first thing I tried to do was to just erase and re-index my hard drive with:

$ sudo mdutil -E /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/

but this gave me a “Indexing disabled.” message. The normal way of handling this is to add your entire hard drive to the “Privacy” tab in the Spotlight settings, but this did not seem to work. Fortunately, I know how to read nerd and did the following in a shell:

$ mdutil
Usage: mdutil -pEsa -i (on|off) -d volume ...
mdutil -t {volume-path | deviceid} fileid
Utility to manage Spotlight indexes.
-p Publish metadata.
-i (on|off) Turn indexing on or off.
-d Disable Spotlight activity for volume (re-enable using -i on).
-E Erase and rebuild index.
-s Print indexing status.
-t Resolve files from file id with an optional volume path or device id.
-a Apply command to all volumes.
-V vol Apply command to all stores on the specified volume.
-v Display verbose information.
NOTE: Run as owner for network homes, otherwise run as root.

OK, so this is good. There’s a flag I can pass to the mdutil program to have it turn on and off indexing for a particular volume.

$ mdutil -i on /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/
Indexing enabled.

Excellent progress! This time, running the “mdutil -E” command above actually kicked off the re-indexing process. It took a little while, but once it was done, search was restored to my Mail program.

Good luck with your mail woes!

Filed under: Technology

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