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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu System 10.4
Tiger only hintAs cool as Spotlight is, not all of us need it clogging up our menu bars. Apple doesn't let you Command-drag it out of the menu bar like you can other extras, but you can still remove with a bit of hacking.
  1. As an administrator, navigate to /System/Library/CoreServices, and delete Search.bundle. If you think might want to re-enable it later, just move it somewhere else or rename it.
  2. Open up the Activity Monitor and force quit SystemUIServer. When it reopens, your menu bar will be Spotlight free.
Note that this doesn't affect applications such as the Finder or Mail, and you can still use them to search as usual. All it does is take the search icon out of the menu bar.

[robg adds: I tested this one, and it does indeed work. I used the terminal to just move the file (sudo mv Search.bundle Search_SAFE.bundle), and then restarted the SystemUIServer. Sure enough, the icon was gone. But in case it's not obvious from the hint, Spotlight's functionality is also gone -- you can't use Command-Space or Command-Option-Space. Spotlight still works in the various Spotlight-enabled applications, but you can't use its system-wide functionality. To put things back to normal, I just reversed the sudo mv and restarted the SystemUIServer again.]
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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu | 33 comments | Create New Account
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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: Baggins on May 04, '05 11:00:32AM

I'm not a big fan of deleting or moving files. Just set the permissions to disallow reading. You can always change the permissions back at a later date.

My favorite tool for this is batchmod.



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: osxpounder on May 04, '05 02:18:07PM

Baggins wrote "I'm not a big fan of deleting or moving files. Just set the permissions to disallow reading." I feel the same way, but usually, I deal with it in a way that will remind me later what I've done, while at the same time requiring the least effort on my part.

If I'm implementing a tip or trick that involves deleting or moving a file, such as a .plist file, I always try this: I rename it, adding my note [to myself] right there in the new name, and leaving the old name at the end, so I'll know what the old name was, in case I need to restore it to its original name.

Example:

original file: com.apple.Safari.plist
renamed: RENAMED-for-Troublshooting-Safari-fails-to-start_com.apple.Safari.plist

Later, I'll see that everything before the underscore character was my own addition, and reading the title tells me why I renamed the file.

I don't know that it will always work with cases where a tip recommends deleting or moving a file, but I always try this as my default strategy. Helps me keep track of what I did without forcing me to remember anything later, or keep notes elsewhere.

I'm also fond of placing notes in folders to remind me of important facts about files in that folder. I have an AppleScript, triggered by Youpi Key via CMD-OPT-CTRL-Spacebar, that places a new text file in the current Finder window, prompts me with a dialog box to rename it, then opens it for editing. I usually make the *name* of the text file serve as my note, so that every time I open the folder, I see:

THESE.ARE.THE.LOCAL.COPIES.AS.UPLOADED.TO.SERVER--KEEP.HANDY.txt

---
--
osxpounder



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: stephen007 on May 04, '05 10:42:58PM

Interesting. The two of you bring up a great idea.

Several times I have been caught scratching my head trying to figure out what I did... a year ago. I'll have to try your renaming ideas.

Thanks!!!

Stephen



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Just curious...
Authored by: masjones on May 04, '05 11:10:16AM

I have not installed Tiger yet, but I use LaunchBar all the time. I've noticed that Command-Space activates Spotlight, this is also the command to activate LB, can that be changed or can the activation command be changed in LaunchBar?

If not, does that make LB completely useless now?

Mj



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Just curious...
Authored by: stcanard on May 04, '05 11:29:32AM

All the spotlight shortcuts can be changed, it's in the preferences panel.



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Just curious...
Authored by: phlops on May 04, '05 11:31:22AM

You can change the hotkeys for both LaunchBar and Spotlight in their respective preference panels.

---
/phil



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Just curious...
Authored by: herbs on May 04, '05 11:33:06AM

Howdy,

You can also change the activation key for LaunchBar. I've had mine set for Ctl-Space for a long time.

Good Luck,
Herb Schulz


---
Good Luck,
Herb Schulz



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Just curious...
Authored by: os4 on May 04, '05 11:35:34AM

Both LaunchBar and Spotlight's preferences allow you to change and [dis|en]able their activation hotkeys. I simply disabled Spotlight's hotkeys, because I find LaunchBar better for what I want.



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Just curious...
Authored by: SmartMoose on May 04, '05 11:41:39AM

You can change the keyboard activation in the Spotlight preference (as the prior poster mentioned) or in the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane, in the "Keyboard Shortcuts" tab. The Spotlight pref pane only allows you to assign activation to F1-F12 and Cmd+Space or Cmd+Opt+Space. In the Keyboard & Mouse pref pane, you can change it to whatever you want. For example, it's been assigned Opt+Cmd+Space for the Spotlight Bar and Ctrl+Opt+Cmd+Space for the Spotlight Window on my Powerbook. LaunchBar gets Cmd+Space.

And yes, LaunchBar works under Tiger, and is still quite useful. Spotlight doesn't seem to learn your keywords, and as a result (on my computer) it always gives some graphic that contains the word "excel" priority over Microsoft Excel. With LaunchBar, I've trained it to launch just using the letter "X". Plus, Spotlight doesn't have in-bar folder navigation, custom queries, and lots of other features that makes LaunchBar so useful to power users. Spotlight is great for it's in-document search capabilities, but for launching apps LaunchBar is much, much better (IMHO).



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LaunchBar will benefit (I hope)!
Authored by: ikky75 on May 05, '05 10:51:24AM

I hope (and even expect) that LaunchBar's developers will be able to take advantage of the new technology provided by SpotLight to make LaunchBar EVEN BETTER.

I still think LaunchBar is superior. While Spotlight is much more thorough (searching contents of files, and many different file types), it takes significantly longer to use, compared to LaunchBar. And the fact that Spotlight doesn't "learn" is a major shortcoming, in my view.

The Tiger review on arstechnica.com ( http://arstechnica.com/reviews/os/macosx-10.4.ars/ ) does a great job of explaining the technology behind Spotlight -- and then predicts that LaunchBar will benefit from the new technology.



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Just curious...
Authored by: Thom on May 06, '05 12:15:49PM
Obligatory QuickSilver mention. Get it here.

It's cheaper then LaunchBar (as in, it's free), more extensible, has more interface options, has a LOT of plugins and an ever-growing user base, myself included. Excellent support and bug tracking.

Once I switched (and found the 'mini' interface plug-in), I didn't look back. Except, of course, to look back on occassion and wave to all you guys. "Come on, what are you waiting for!?!?" :)

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Butler kicks Quicksilver and Launchbar ass
Authored by: gabrielradic on May 10, '05 10:02:09AM

Butler kicks Quicksilver, Launchbar an Spotlight ass. Get it here now



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Butler kicks Quicksilver and Launchbar ass
Authored by: hotchili on Aug 29, '05 04:46:49AM

I agree, why use Spotlight when there's Butler??
Glad I found this hint, just what I need to gain some menubar back for my 12" PB.



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: metiure on May 04, '05 12:09:25PM

Why delete the whole bundle?
Why not the menu bar icon?
try to delete "MDSearchWidget_Normal-1.tiff" inside /Contents/Resources

Vic



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: Kraven0825 on May 04, '05 02:58:30PM

Just curious if you actually tried it yourself before suggesting it, not trying to be wise here, because I couldn't get it to work. The system UI did not start up again properly and therefore my whole bar went blank, I changed the name back in the .tiff file and force killed it again and all of it came back properly. I think the system will sit there and look for that .tiff for a long time hindering the succesful launch of the bar.

But here is an idea, how about a compromise of creating a single pixel transparent .tiff and replacing the .tiff file in that bundle. This allows you to keep your functionality but not lose the precious bar space up there, and since it is only one pixal wide and transparent, you'd never even know it is there or be able to click on it, but you could still use the keyboard shortcuts.....maybe? Just a thought



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: lpp on May 04, '05 03:42:54PM

Actually, if you were able to do this, you would still be able to activate Spotlight by clicking way up on the top right corner anway. I saw a note on Daring Fireball's list of Tiger changes that mentioned the clickable hotspot for both the Apple menu icon on the top left and the Spotlight icon on the top right extend all the way to the top and right of the screen, so no more trying to click directly on the icon.



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: pr10n on May 05, '05 01:16:59AM

I gave Kraven0825's suggestion a try with mixed results.

I replaced each of the following files with a single pixel transparent tiff:

  • MDSearchWidget_Normal-1.tiff
  • MDSearchWidget_Normal-6.tiff
  • MDSearchWidget_Pressed-1.tiff
  • MDSearchWidget_Pressed-6.tiff

The result was a missing search bar button as expected but the real estate is still allocated. So now all the remaining items appear offset to the left.



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Search.bundle menu space
Authored by: taran on Jul 03, '05 11:19:25PM

Also notice that if you disable the entire bundle, you lose the rounded upper right corner of the menu bar and a little bit of horizontal padding between the edge of the screen and the right-most menu icon.

Hopefully Apple will soon (within 10.4.x) add an official method for disabling the menu icon that retains the rounding of the menu bar.



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: phlyingpenguin on May 04, '05 12:10:54PM

THANKYOU!!

The one thing I've seen in all of the talk about Tiger is how there's a lack of folks who really don't like Spotlight's presence. I do like the idea of an indexed search, but I really don't have any need for it either. When it comes down to it, Butler does my application launching and controls iTunes with the command shortcuts that Spotlight has by default. I could switch these things, but if Spotlight isn't going to be a good replacement for launching applications and I haven't got a need for searching, why do I even want it around? I don't! I do wish it coulld just be hidden or moved like a usual menubar object since I hate to lose the functionality, but removing it is also just fine by me.



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Spotlight security
Authored by: deepkid on May 04, '05 04:29:59PM

I'm surprised that Apple would allow users to exclude content from Spotlight, but not make that exclusion list password-protected.

Suppose that you'd like to exclude sensitive content/information from spotlight. As it currently works, anyone using the machine can pull up your Spotlight preferences and go directly to the excluded content. I realize that a user could do a finder search to look for filenames, but as powerful as Spotlight is, the excluded content should have the option of being password-protected.

I'm suprised that it went out the door this way.



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Spotlight security
Authored by: aixccapt99 on May 04, '05 06:07:13PM

My answer would be that you should not have other people using your account extensively/unsupervised in the first place. Make a guest account!



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: xApple on May 07, '05 09:02:04AM

This sucks !
So there is no way of reallocating that top right menu bar real estate wihtout actually deactivating the whole spotlight bundle !?
I love spotlight's functionality but just have no use of a menubar widget for it. I'm always accessing it by the key-combination...
If changing the icons doesn't help, one must find the place where the icon size/clickable zone is stored... would that be possible ?
Why is Apple forcing us to keep that icon up there ?



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: johnsawyercjs on May 09, '05 06:37:29AM

Because they CAN (at least for now).



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: bbeck13 on Nov 01, '05 07:48:14AM

FYI, I implemented this change via renaming Search.bundle to RENAMED_TO_DISABLE_SPOTLIGHT_MENUITEM_Search.bundle. Doing this caused my system to not fully boot properly after upgrading to 10.4.3. My major symptom was that none of my menuitems (standard or otherwise) were visible and Activity Monitor showed SystemUIServer as hung.

I tracked the above problem down to the change associated with this hint, and noticed that 10.4.3 had recreated the Search.bundle with only a few updated files in it. My fix was to copy the files that Apple updated that were now in Search.bundle into my renamed Search.bundle. I then deleted Search.bundle again, and rebooted. Everything was ok again.

If you notice some problems with menuitems after upgrading to 10.4.3 and have applied this hint with renaming, then the above could be your solution.



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A safer, non-hack way to do this
Authored by: Rainy Day on Dec 29, '05 02:40:14PM
A safer way is simply to edit /etc/hostconfig with your favorite GUI or CLI editor (or a perl one-liner) and change:

  SPOTLIGHT=-YES-

to:

  SPOTLIGHT=-NO-

With this change, on boot-up, Spotlight will not start.

Note: The file is writable only by root, so this will require you either fiddle with permissions in the Finder's Get Info, have an editor that knows how to authenticate itself, or use sudo in the Terminal.

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perl one-liner for this
Authored by: Rainy Day on Dec 29, '05 02:58:01PM
The perl one-liner would look something like this:

  sudo perl -pi'.orig' -e 's/SPOTLIGHT=-YES-/SPOTLIGHT=-NO-/' /etc/hostconfig

This line edits the file, and creates a backup copy of the original with a ".orig" extension.

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perl one-liner for this (w/improved HTML formatting)
Authored by: Rainy Day on Dec 29, '05 03:04:48PM
The perl one-liner would look something like this:

  sudo perl -pi'.orig' -e 's/SPOTLIGHT=-YES-/SPOTLIGHT=-NO-/' /etc/hostconfig

This line edits the file, and creates a backup copy of the original with a ".orig" extension.

 

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HELP! This made me loose all searching capabilities
Authored by: bcometa on Jan 11, '06 11:21:43AM

Can someone plz post the inverse of this perl command... I typed it into terminal and now I can't search in finder (endlessly searches to no avail) OR using spotlight (doesn't react when i type something in the drop down text box), and the spotlight icon is still on the upper right hand corner of my screen.

Thanks in advance!

Brian



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Here's one way to undo it
Authored by: Rainy Day on Jan 12, '06 09:44:31PM
To undo it, simply exchange the YES and NO, like this:

   sudo perl -pi'.orig' -e 's/SPOTLIGHT=-NO-/SPOTLIGHT=-YES-/' /etc/hostconfig

Between the first set of slashes is the "search for" parameter, and the "replace with" is between the second set of slashes (they share the common middle slash).

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A safer, non-hack way to do this
Authored by: vlbrown on Jan 11, '06 03:00:08PM

This method doesn't make the menu item go away :-(



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Reboot is required
Authored by: Rainy Day on Jan 12, '06 09:36:50PM
Forgot to to say "reboot." The perl script just edits the /etc/hostconfi file. That file is generally only read on system startup, which is why the reboot is necessary.

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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: elmo123 on Aug 05, '06 07:39:45PM

It sounds like the best course of action to just set your privileges for /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle to no access.

The problem is, the OSX Get Info dialog doesn't let you do this, admin or not. I used Super Get Info set my read write and execute privileges to false, but a sudo chmod should work.

Moving or renaming Search.bundle or editing /etc/hostconfig would disable Spotlight for all users, which is probably not what you want.

---
I sure do like being inside this fancy computer.



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10.4: How to disable the Spotlight menu
Authored by: ShadowBottle on Jul 14, '07 05:51:53PM

in 10.4.10 this causes MASSES of writes to console.log about Systemui crashing over and over again and slows things down. Suuuuucks.
Haven't found a work around to really take care of this.
*sigh*

ShaBot



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