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TUAW Tip: exclude your Time Machine disk from Spotlight indexing

Scott McNulty

Just the other day I noticed an odd thing: the Spotlight magnifying glass on my MacBook Pro had that little pulsating dot in it that means it is indexing something. That was odd, since I hadn't added any large files to my Mac, nor had I connected an external harddrive. Or did I?

As you might be able to guess from the picture above, Spotlight was dutifully trying to index my Time Capsule's harddrive every time that drive was mounted by Time Machine (which is once an hour). This process was making my backups take a little longer than I wanted them to, so I simply excluded my Time Capsule from Spotlight's indexing.

Here's how you do it:
  1. Launch System Preferences (or you can open the Spotlight preferences from the Spotlight dropdown menu).
  2. Click on the 'Privacy' tab.
  3. click the little plus icon ()
  4. Choose your Time Machine disk (as you can see mine is cleverly named)
That's it! Now Spotlight will ignore your Time Machine disk, your backups will run a little faster, and there will be a spring in your step.

Update: As some commenters have noted, this tip does mean that you won't be able to use Spotlight to search your Time Machine backups. That's fine for me, since when I'm using Time Machine I'm restoring a file that I noticed is missing, or an entire folder. I don't need to search for something, however, if you find yourself routinely searching your Time Machine backups via Spotlight this tip isn't for you.

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