Unable to Type in Spotlight Search Bar

I am unable to type in the spotlight search bar occasionally. I can bring it up using the command + space shortcut. The input field appears as it should be doing, but when I start typing. Nothing is appearing in the search box. Even though the keyboard works just fine in other applications. If I start textedit for instance typing there works perfectly.

It was difficult to search for help about this issue because the search terms: spotlight, and typing are so broad, but eventually I found a forum post somewhere that had suggestions on how to solve this annoying issue.

To solve this issue you can try the following:

  1. Click once on your desktop
  2. Click the spotlight icon in the top bar
  3. Press backspace when the search bar is open
  4. Click the spotlight icon in the top bar again
  5. Pressย backspaceย when the search bar is openย again
  6. Does it work now?

It did for me…

I have no idea why this is happening and what I am doing to get this problem. It may appear to be a focus issue. When you have a application open but if it isn’t in focus it won’t accept input. Just a theory.ย Hopefully Apple have plans to fix this in upcoming software updates. Let me know down in the comments if you have other solutions to this issue.

34 thoughts on “Unable to Type in Spotlight Search Bar”

  1. Thanks for this. I woke up to this exact problem this morning. I’ve never seen this happen before. No idea why it happened. Your solution worked.

  2. Happened to me as well, followed the instruction but not working for me.
    Found another fix, restart spotlight on terminal: killall Spotlight

  3. hmmm…my apple keyboard does not have a backspace key. i believe that’s true for most if not all apple keyboards. when i look up apple backspace key, some folks say to try the delete key. unfortunately following your instructions using the delete key does not fix the problem. is there a different key i should be using on an apple keyboard? what key are you folks who are having success using?

  4. @john
    delete key is backspace.

    however, NONE of these worked for me, including restarting. I am trying to type in / search for a document entitled Biz 2019 and every time i get to the i or z in biz, spotlight search field just disappears — it is so frustrating.

    recently the calendar banner notices just started ‘sticking’ and not going away in a few seconds as well.

    Good, expert advice welcome!!! thanks

  5. john, cade. Have you tried opening terminal and running: killall Spotlight ? might work.

    Strange and annoying problem this is.

  6. Hey @bjokib — thank you and yes I sure did that. Also used quit & even force quit from the activity monitor.

    NOW: Just found a couple tips that seem to be working for me now re: Mac Spotlight Search Crashing or Quitting After Entering Just A Few Letters? about halfway down this page located at

    I am so far having success about typing into spotlight search field now and being able to type more than 2 or 3 letters before it disappears so I think doing all those tips — at least one or all seem to have worked for me!

    Thanks and maybe will help. Now onto figuring out why calendar banners come and won’t go away!!

  7. i did try killall Spotlight, thanks. did not work.
    cade, thanks so much for the link to appletoolbox.com. the link mentions several spotlight problems. under my problem – after typing several letters, spotlight disappears – there are 4 solutions.1) make sure you have the latest version of safari – i do; 2) tap command space and wait – no help; 3) reindex spotlight – sounds daunting; 4) go to spotlight preferences and uncheck bookmarks and history – that worked! thanks, cade!


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