I’ve been exploring the new Spotlight feature in Mac OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” and really like it. Except for the type-ahead suggestions, which seem to be coming from a centralized database, not from data that’s on my own system. Is Apple sending all my local search queries to a central server? If so, how do I disable this violation of my privacy??
You’re really paying close attention to realize that yes, the type-ahead suggestions in Apple’s new reimplementation of Spotlight Search in the latest version of Mac OS X, 10.10 “Yosemite”, are based on Apple sending your query character-by-character to their servers. Not only that, it turns out that Spotlight also utilizes Microsoft Bing’s search-ahead service too.
Why is your data going to these servers when you’re just looking for an email or document on your computer? Because just like the powerful reimplementation of search in Windows 8, Spotlight search in Yosemite offers quite a bit more power than just the ability to find contacts, files and email messages. At a price.
I’ve been running Mac OS X 10.10 for months now and Spotlight’s one of my very favorite new features. In fact, it’s so good that it’s changed how I use the computer entirely and Cmd-space is a sequence I’m constantly typing to jump right to the Spotlight search box:
Not sure what you can do here? Try typing in a mathematical equation, the name of someone famous, the name of a current movie or even a key word or two describing a current event. Helpful!
But I can also understand your desire to retain your privacy rather than have Apple and Microsoft both analyzing each search you do, letter by letter, whether the intention is positive or otherwise.
To disable the external search hint feature, go to System Preferences off the Apple menu. Along the top row you’ll see the Spotlight icon:
Click on it and you’ll see a list of every category of information Spotlight is configured to search:
The first one to disable you can see on that very screen: Spotlight Suggestions. Uncheck that box if it’s checked.
Before we get to the second box, however, here’s how Apple describes the privacy aspect — obtained by clicking on the “About Spotlight Suggestions & Privacy” button on the lower right:
That’s their take.
Still want to disable this feature? No worries. Once you’ve unchecked “Spotlight Suggestions” scroll down and find “Bing Search” too:
That’s it. Close the window. Done.