Mac OS X: process “mds” is taking up all your memory?

I bet you know the problem: you Mac is getting slower and slower, and when opening “Activity Monitor” you see that a process called MDS is eating your memory, and using quite some processing power of your precious little Mac.
So you wonder… What is this “mds” thing anyway, and how do I get rid of it, or at least control it?

Mac Os XWhat MDS does:
What MDS does is quite easy to explain. Do you know the little looking glass in the upper right corner of your screen? It’s called “Spotlight” and it finds anything you want on your Mac. However, Spotlight has a little helper, a Watson if you will. This Watson of Spotlight is called “mds”, and what it does is index your hard drive, so that when you want to use Spotlight to find something you need, Spotlight already has the indexed information ready to search.

How to control MDS:
Normally, mds is a small little process that should bother you too much. It shouldn’t eat too much memory, and it shouldn’t use too much of your processor’s time. However, when your disk gets corrupted, or the metadata file of Spotlight gets bad, it may be that mds’s resources usages gets out of bound.
First thing to do when this happens? Run the Disk Utility to make sure it isn’t your hard drive that is going berserk.

If that is ok, you can instruct MDS to clear out the metadata cache and rebuild it totally from scratch using this command run from Terminal:

sudo mdutil -avE

And should you, for some bizarre reason, want to disable Spotlight completely, you can use this command:

sudo mdutil -a -i off

Within a few days you will notice that Spotlight actually is a useful companion on your Mac, and you will want to enable it again. So you will need this one too:

sudo mdutil -a -i on

If you forgot if you have Spotlight enabled or disabled, or just want to check its status for fun, you can try this command:

sudo mdutil -s /

Well, that’s it, hope this helps to get your mds under control, and enjoy your Mac and Spotlight even more.


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