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10.4: Find one possible source of Spotlight issues System 10.4
If you're experiencing slowdowns, crashes, beachballs, and other general usability issues with Spotlight in Tiger, this thread on our forums may contain the solution. In the first (and as of this writing, only) post, the author describes how a downloaded program contained a file with a newline (carriage return) character in its name. After much digging, the author and others figured out that this badly-named file was breaking Spotlight in 10.4.

To find the offending file, the user used find /[whatever] -type f -print in Terminal, and then scanned the output for any lines that didn't begin with a /. After finding and deleting the offending file, Spotlight started working normally again.

The author also tested for the problem in 10.5 by intentionally creating a file with a newline character in its name. Spotlight didn't stop working, but it also didn't index the file (still a much better outcome than in 10.4). Thanks to hayne, one of our moderators on the forum site, for pointing out this post.
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10.4: Find one possible source of Spotlight issues
Authored by: chsnyder on Apr 24, '09 04:43:22AM

There are so many things that can break Spotlight's indexer, and they all need to be flagged as security vulnerabilities because when mdimport fails it does not do so gracefully. I really believe these are denial of service issues.

I had a partially downloaded video that Spotlight tried to index. By the time I discovered why the CPU was pegged and heating my PowerBook to 178C, a massive onslaught of log entries had filled the remaining space on the harddrive to the point where the system would not reboot. I lost a day reinstalling OS X to that one.

I've seen it choke on corrupt jpegs, too. And all of this happens in the background, where it's impossible for an everyday Mac user to get a handle on what's going on or how to stop it. Spotlight (and Quicklook) are incredibly useful. Here's hoping that mdimport gets reengineered in the next release of OS X.

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10.4: Find one possible source of Spotlight issues
Authored by: gmachen on Apr 24, '09 04:44:14AM

I did a search with Find Any File and it turns out that I have 137 filenames containing carriage return characters. My Tiger 10.4.9 Spotlight finds them and I don't have any of the symptoms described.

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10.4: Find one possible source of Spotlight issues
Authored by: lithite on Apr 24, '09 04:45:26AM
You can save yourself considerable effort looking through lines and therefore scan much more by piping to grep:
find / -type f -print | grep -B1 -v '^/'
This will list all files on the disk, and print out lines that don't begin with / (so lines following a return in a filename). It will also print out the line before it so you can see where it is.

This may be an intensive process, so it may be wiser to scan a smaller subset such as:
find /Applications/ -type f -print | grep -B1 -v '^/'

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