10.4: Disable Spotlight on a FAT32 external drive

Aug 16, '06 07:30:04AM

Contributed by: eAspenwood

After scouring the internet for several hours trying to figure out how to stop Spotlight from indexing my external 300GB FAT32 drive (which I don't even need indexed and was causing slowdowns), the one thing that worked for me was a somewhat obscure thing I found on a couple of sites.

By putting an empty file named .metadata_never_index file at the top level directory of the volume, it has stopped searching the volume. To create the file, I just issued the command touch .metadata_never_index from Terminal (make sure you're at the top-level of the volume, obviously). This worked for my FAT32 volume; an NTFS partition may require a different solution. Here are the things that did not work for me:

  1. Spotlight preferences: adding to Privacy list does not work for FAT32 volumes (or NTFS volumes).
  2. mdutil -i off /path/to/volume/: Seems like it would clear the index out, but immediately begin to reindex it.
  3. Creating an empty .Spotlight-V100 file: FAT32 volumes do not have .Spotlight-V100 directories to begin with, so this doesn't work. This may work for an NTFS volume, though.
  4. Manually modifying files in the /.Spotlight-V100 directory: In a moment of desperation, I tried manually adding my volume to the _exclusions.plist file under /.Spotlight-V100, which of course didn't work.
  5. Spotless application: This app didn't recognize my FAT32 drives. It probably only works for HFS+ drives, but I didn't look to deeply in to it.
Well, I'm very relieved to have found this fix. I was close to resorting to turning on and off the external drive as I needed it (yuck!) to avoid the system slowdowns every time I did a Spotlight seach. Hope someone else finds this useful.

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