New updates are being added at the bottom of this story…….

Original story (published on December 15, 2020) follows:

Some Mac users who’ve installed the macOS Big Sur update on their devices are claiming that the Spotlight search function no longer works as it did prior to the update.

Users are disappointed since they aren’t able to rely on Spotlight to find the files, apps, documents, and other items they want to access quickly.


Moreover, there isn’t just a single problem that has ruined the user experience. Instead, there are several issues that degrade the function.

A user has listed some of the major issues that they noticed with the Spotlight search function after installing the macOS Big Sur update on their computer. We’ve shared a screenshot of it below:


As you can tell by the number of upvotes and comments on the user’s post on Reddit, many users who installed the macOS Big Sur updates are facing similar issues and agree that Apple has messed up Spotlight.

But this is also only part of a bigger picture because some users claim that Spotlight no longer works on their Macs after the macOS Big Sur update.

According to those who are dealing with this issue, Spotlight does not return any results when searching for files, apps, documents, and other items.


ITs been weeks since I downloaded big sur and spotlight is still not working consistently. How has apple not patched this yet? (Source)

It seems that under Big Sur spotlight no longer indexes the content of RTF files. (To verify this create one with textedit, save it, search). This must be a bug / regression right? What could be a more canonical example of spotlight usage than finding text in RTF? (Source)

Ever since I updated to Big Sur, Spotlight is working pretty bad, sometimes it brings no results and sometimes it just freezes everything, apparently it only gets back to working after a system reboot 🙁 (Source)

While the issue does not affect all macOS Big Sur users, it’s clear that some are having terrible luck with getting Spotlight to function as normal.

Fortunately, there are a few workarounds that seem to have fixed most of the issues users are experiencing with the Spotlight search function.

Workarounds for macOS Big Sur Spotlight issues

1) Uninstall Little Snitch:

According to one user, the Little Snitch program might be the reason behind the Spotlight search issues for some. Therefore, uninstalling the program and reinstalling it should fix the problem.

uninstall LS completely. enjoy Spotlight working as expected. reinstall LS. enjoy Spotlight still working as expected. shake head about stupid LS bug that seems impossible to fix. (Source)

2) Give it time to index files:

Some users might be noticing the issue because Spotlight has not been able to index all the files on the computer after installing macOS Big Sur.

However, after some time, the problem automatically disappears since the system has enough time to index all the files on the Mac. Thus, you may want to give it some time for all files to be indexed.

I do not know how to reproduce this or whether it will come back, the problem came out of the blue and just vanished again. The best solution so far seems to me to just keep the machine running through the night and hope it will be done with whatever task that causes the problems by the next morning.. (Source)

3) Switch to Alfred:

It’s widely accepted that Alfred is better than the default Spotlight feature on macOS and thus many users who are fed up with the broken search function on macOS Big Sur are recommending others to switch to Alfred.

Why not use Alfred? Personally, Spotlight always felt like a gimped version of Alfred to me. (Source)


At present, Apple has not acknowledged any issues reported by users when using Spotlight. The company has just rolled out the Big Sur 11.1 update, however, we didn’t come across any reports of the issue being fixed.

Nonetheless, we will continue to keep an eye out for any developments on the matter and will post an update if something relevant surfaces.

In the meantime, check out our dedicated tracker to know more about the status of bugs and issues found on macOS Big Sur.

Update (March 04, 2021)

Apparently, the Spotlight search function workaround that involved uninstalling Little Snitch also addresses the issue where the Recents folder wouldn’t show any content, but the search results appear when searching from within the folder.

PiunikaWeb started as purely an investigative tech journalism website with main focus on ‘breaking’ or ‘exclusive’ news. In no time, our stories got picked up by the likes of Forbes, Foxnews, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Engadget, The Verge, Macrumors, and many others. Want to know more about us? Head here.

Dwayne Cubbins
1150 Posts

My fascination with Android phones began the moment I got my hands on one. Since then, I've been on a journey to decode the ever-evolving tech landscape, fueled by a passion for both the "how" and the "why." Since 2018, I've been crafting content that empowers users and demystifies the tech world. From in-depth how-to guides that unlock your phone's potential to breaking news based on original research, I strive to make tech accessible and engaging.

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