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Fix a Slow Spotlight on Your Mac

I updated my 2018 Mac mini to macOS Big Sur, and then Spotlight’s performance tanked. If you’re in the same boat I was, here is your answer.

Attached to my Mac is an external drive that I use for Time Machine backups. When this drive is attached, Spotlight slogs through most of my inquiries, especially inquiries for definitions and weather. I would wait 10 to 15 seconds for Spotlight to render its answers. When I ejected that external drive, then Spotlight returned to its spry self with nearly instant responses.

So the Time Machine drive is the culprit, but we still need backups.

Thankfully, the fix is fairly simple. Just prevent Spotlight from looking at the Time Machine drive.

  1. Go to System Preferences/Spotlight.
  2. Click the Privacy tab.
  3. Click the + button.
  4. Navigate to the Time Machine drive and select it.
    (Be sure to select the top-level drive and not any of its folders or subfolders.)
  5. Click Choose.

macOS will reindex briefly, and then Spotlight performance should be significantly improved.

Add Outlook.com Email to macOS

Outlook and Settings Icons

The process to configure a connection to Outlook.com in macOS is not intuitive for whatever reason only Microsoft and Apple know. I found several outdated and unhelpful articles that had me going nowhere.

So here’s the magic solution: Use App-Specific Password. Create that first, then configure macOS.

To generate an app-specific password:

  1. Go to account.microsoft.com and log in
  2. On the Account bar (or tap Account on you mobile device), and click or tap Security & privacy.
  3. Find the link titled More security settings and click/tap it.
  4. Under App Passwords, find and click/tap Create new app password.
  5. An app password will be generated. Use this to log into Outlook.com email service from within macOS Mail.

How do you do that? This is how:

  1. In macOS Mail, click Mail in the task bar.
  2. Click Add Account…
  3. Click Other Mail Account and click Continue.
  4. Enter the Outlook.com email address and then enter the app-specific password you generated in the previous steps. Click Sign In.

After a few moments, you should be good to go.

PS: Why is it a breeze to set up an Outlook account in iOS but such a mystery in macOS?