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macOS indexing issues causing results to be missing in Alfred

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I have the same problem. I think this is a more widespread problem that's related to Alfred 4 (and Big Sur possibly). I did all the steps recommended here, and after that failed, went through this list and updated Alfred (I'm now on Alfred 4), and then did another rebuilding of the index and clearing of Alfred's cache, but still I'm not seeing my applications show up in the Alfred search (before w/ Alfred 3, it seemed like it was just Zoom that wouldn't show up; now none of my installed apps show up).

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@Andrew This is the output


Starting Diagnostics...

File: 'Google Chrome.app'
Path: '/Applications'


Check file cache database...

 File cache integrity is ok


Check if file is readable...

 Alfred has permissions to read this file.


Check file is in search scope...

 File exists within Alfred's default search scope


Check if volume '/' is indexed by macOS...

 Indexing is enabled on this drive


Check direct file metadata...

 Direct metadata available

Display Name: Google Chrome
 Other Names: 
Content Type: com.apple.application-bundle
   Last Used: 2020-12-02 05:01:01 +0000


Check mdls file metadata...

 macOS metadata missing essential items

kMDItemFSContentChangeDate = 2020-12-02 05:01:01 +0000
kMDItemFSCreationDate      = 2020-12-02 05:01:01 +0000
kMDItemFSCreatorCode       = ""
kMDItemFSFinderFlags       = 0
kMDItemFSHasCustomIcon     = 0
kMDItemFSInvisible         = 0
kMDItemFSIsExtensionHidden = 0
kMDItemFSIsStationery      = 0
kMDItemFSLabel             = 0
kMDItemFSName              = "Google Chrome.app"
kMDItemFSNodeCount         = 1
kMDItemFSOwnerGroupID      = 80
kMDItemFSOwnerUserID       = 501
kMDItemFSSize              = 1
kMDItemFSTypeCode          = ""


 Troubleshooting failed


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@sliao this suggests that the macOS metadata index is broken. One trick you could try is copy this app (Google Chrome) to your desktop, and wait a moment for macOS to index it in the new location, then see if it's found in Alfred. Drag it from the desktop into Alfred's Troubleshooting to see if it's now properly indexed by macOS.


If so, try dragging it back to /Applications/ again and repeat this.

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It wouldn't reindex even after leaving the app on my Desktop for half an hour. I found this other user's answer here about disabling indexing and then reenabling, and after doing that and rebuilding the index for Alfred (via Advanced tab), I was able to finally see my apps. For the sake of other users, is there a possibility that there's an issue w/ Alfred 4 b/c this was an issue w/ Catalina too? And my Spotlight has been able to work fine this whole time.

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9 hours ago, sliao said:

For the sake of other users, is there a possibility that there's an issue w/ Alfred 4 b/c this was an issue w/ Catalina too?


Not really, no. Alfred uses the same system index for searching that Spotlight does. If something's missing from the results that should be there, it wasn't returned by the OS.


Spotlight can sometimes finds items Alfred can't because it still has them cached.


Alfred does have its own list of applications and preference panes (for performance), but that's still provided by the system index.

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For the benefit of anybody following or reading this topic, here is a bit of a clarification of the reindexing / file indexing:


12 hours ago, sliao said:

I found this other user's answer here about disabling indexing and then reenabling


This disables and re-enables the macOS metadata index, which can indeed help.


12 hours ago, sliao said:

and rebuilding the index for Alfred (via Advanced tab)


The Rebuild macOS Metadata button in Alfred's Advanced prefs opens terminal and runs this very similar command to the one you linked to:


sudo mdutil -E -i on /


All of these commands manipulate the underlying metadata index created and maintained by macOS.


It's quite rare for this index to fail in later versions of macOS. We witnessed quite a few failures when people upgraded from Mojave to Catalina (along with people's permissions being reset), but the upgrade from Catalina to Big Sur seems to have gone much more smoothly aside for a handful of people.


If this index is working as it should do, then Alfred's file search results will populate quickly and correctly.


I aim to further improve the built-in troubleshooting to aid people in fixing the macOS metadata issues, but for now, it is a good and simple indication of when things have gone wrong, as you saw in your troubleshooting output.





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Here's a small update to this thread, following an email exchange with another user who specifically had issues finding Adobe apps.


First, it seems to be an issue that particularly affects Adobe apps when using the Creative Cloud subscription, which leads me to believe that their apps are treated differently by macOS, even though they appear identical on the surface, due to being cloud apps.


A reasonable solution is to create a workflow with nicknames for these apps specifically. Scroll down to "Adding keywords as nicknames" here, in a similar way to how I use the keyword "iPhoto" to launch the Photos app (because I forget it's been renamed):


Screenshot 2020-12-18 at 15.05.14.png


We'll keep an eye out for any further wisdom relating to the Adobe cloud apps, but the nicknames solution should be a decent one for the few users affected by this :)



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  • 4 weeks later...

So, I took the steps mentioned in this thread to reindex the MacOS metadata. I started the process in terminal and get the following screen. How do I know when the reindexing process is done? Do I just wait an hour (or more) and then press any key to finish? Also, I can see the progress of the reindexing by performing a search in Spotlight? I'm a bit unsure about that. Just look for a file I previously couldn't find with Alfred? The issue for me is that Spotlight finds everything while Alfred doesn't. I'm reindexing to see if that, hopefully, fixes the problem. Some additional information...I use Box.com  and am able to find most folders in Alfred. Some, however, are not found. I sync the files locally to my HD.




Edited by mtalio
additional information added
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7 hours ago, mtalio said:

Do I just wait an hour (or more) and then press any key to finish?


There's no need to keep that window open; just press a key. The re-indexing is done in the background by the OS.


7 hours ago, mtalio said:

Also, I can see the progress of the reindexing by performing a search in Spotlight?


If the drive you're re-indexing is your boot drive, Spotlight shows a progress bar when you open it to search.


If it’s another drive, I don’t think there’s a way to directly follow indexing progress, though you can often notice the additional disk activity and CPU load. Spotlight processes are (all?) named md... if you’d like to keep an eye on them in Activity Monitor.

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  • 2 weeks later...


1. Making sure to check 'Delete Spotlight.V100' was important for me.

2. A simple restart after the whole re-indexing led to a total resolution of the issue. For some reason, prior to restart, and even using the 'reload' command within Alfred, the results did not appear. Now they appear as beautifully and quickly as they should in Alfred.


Previous post:


I have done all steps suggested of turning off then back on MacOS indexing, rebuilding MacOS Metadata, and still this issue persists, and for files completely separate from Adobe apps.


See screenshots below — searching for files and/or folders within my Google Drive 'Music' folder (stored locally) returns no results, but checks out when running through file search troubleshooter. See below:



Screen Shot 2021-01-25 at 12.23.21 PM_shrink.png

Edited by Lolo
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  • 1 month later...

Lately, I've been having problems again. I did everything mentioned here by reindexing my laptop. I "reload" and leave things alone so it can get done.

I restart the computer. I can still not find certain items in Alfred but I can find them in Spotlight.


Any guidance?

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Ok...I'm still having problems. Yesterday, it found items after reindexing and restarting my MBP. Today, when it wouldn't find the same folders it found yesterday, I would search in Spotlight. The Folders were found. Immediately, I could do a search for the same folders in Alfred and it would, sometimes, now find the folder. Other times, it wouldn't. I'm still bothered and perplexed by this. Does anyone have any thoughts? 

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