How to Disable Developer Search Results in Spotlight on a Mac

By Chris Hoffman on October 24th, 2015

Spotlight search on Mac OS X shows results from the “Developer” category if you’ve ever installed Xcode on your Mac. If you still have Xcode installed, there’s an easy checkbox to disable this. But, if you’ve uninstalled Xcode, Spotlight just keeps showing Developer search results with no way to turn them off.

This can clutter Spotlight with a lot of search results you may not want to see, especially if you have a lot of source code files lying around on your Mac. Here’s how to disable it — even if you don’t have Xcode installed.

If You Have Xcode Installed

If you have Xcode installed, this is simple because you can do it the normal way.

Open the System Preferences window by clicking the Apple menu and selecting “System Preferences.” Click the “Spotlight” icon in the System Preferences window.

You could also use Spotlight to launch this preferences pane — press Command+Space, type Spotlight, select the Spotlight shortcut, and press Enter.

Locate the “Developer” category in the list under Search Results and uncheck it. Spotlight won’t show Developer search results anymore.

The Bug

If you don’t have Xcode installed, you won’t see the “Developer” category in the Spotlight preferences pane at all. Developer results will appear in Spotlight search, but there’s no way to turn them off.

This seems to be the result of a bug in Mac OS X. We encountered this bug in both OS X 10.10 Yosemite and 10.11 El Capitan. It may also have been a problem on previous versions.

If you’ve ever installed Xcode, Spotlight will assume you’re a “developer” and will continue showing you Developer search results, even after you uninstall Xcode. However, the Spotlight preferences pane seems to only show the “Developer” category if Xcode is currently installed. There’s normally no way to disable this if you don’t have Xcode installed.

If You Don’t Have Xcode Installed

Thankfully, there’s a quick workaround you can use if you don’t want to reinstall Xcode. Of course, reinstalling Xcode would also work — but you’d have to leave Xcode installed.

We’ll just need to trick Spotlight into thinking you have Xcode installed. To do this, open a Terminal window. Press Command+Space, type Terminal, and press Enter to launch a terminal window from Spotlight. You can also open a Finder window, click “Applications” in the sidebar, double-click the “Utilities” folder, and then double-click the “Terminal” shortcut.

Type the following two commands into the terminal window, pressing Enter after each to run them:

cd /Applications

touch Xcode.app

This creates an empty file named Xcode.app in your Applications folder. It doesn’t take up any space, and it doesn’t do anything. You’ll see it in your Applications folder, although you won’t be able to launch or do anything with it.

You can now reopen the Spotlight pane in System Preferences. With a file named Xcode.app present, it will show you the “Developer” checkbox and you can uncheck it, removing the Developer search results from your Spotlight searches.

Don’t delete the empty Xcode.app file later — you’ll need to leave it there. If you reopen the Spotlight preferences panel after deleting the Xcode.app, it seems to re-enable Developer searches in Spotlight again.


Thanks to Sans Comic over at Stack Exchange for figuring out this solution. This person’s work was invaluable when we stumbled upon the problem ourselves.

Apple will hopefully fix this issue in the future. But, for now, people who’ve previously installed Xcode will need to leave an Xcode.app file in their Applications folder if they don’t want to see Developer search results in Spotlight.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 10/24/15
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