How to hide the Spotlight Search icon from the menu bar

Check out these 3 ways to remove the Spotlight Search icon from the menu bar on your Mac and keep your desktop clutter-free. These instructions will work for any macOS version.

Spotlight Search on Mac

If you never use the Spotlight feature on your Mac, or only use it by pressing Command + Space Bar or use the search box in Finder rather than using Spotlight, you may have wondered how to get rid of its icon.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to remove the Spotlight Search icon from the menu bar and make some space there.

1. Hide it from System Settings

These instructions will work for Macs running macOS Venture or later.

  1. Click the Apple icon  and choose System Settings.
  2. Select Control Center from the left sidebar.
  3. Scroll to the Menu Bar Only heading.
  4. From here, click the drop-down menu next to Spotlight and select Don’t Show in Menu Bar.
Do not show Spotlight in menu bar using the Control Center settings on Mac

The Spotlight Search icon will immediately disappear from the menu bar.

Related: How to remove the Search button from your iPhone Home Screen

2. Drag it to the desktop to remove it

The instructions are only valid for newer versions of macOS, including Ventura and newer.

  1. Hold the Command key on your Mac’s keyboard.
  2. Without lifting your hold on the Command key, put the mouse pointer on the Spotlight icon and drag it drow to the desktop until you see an X icon, and then you can lift your finger from the mouse as well as the Command key.
Drag the Spotlight icon down to the desktop to remove it from the menu bar

You can use the above steps to remove all other icons from the menu bar except:

  • Day, Date, Month, & Time
  • Siri
  • Control Center
  • Menu bar icon for any open app

Related: How to exclude specific files, folders, disks, and categories from showing up in Spotlight search results on Mac

3. Use Terminal

You can use this method if you’re on an older version of macOS and the two solutions above don’t work for you.

Please bear in mind that modifications to system files can cause problems if carried out incorrectly. Enter the following commands carefully, and proceed at your own risk.

1) Before you begin, you must disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) on your Mac. The file we are dealing with is not modifiable without this step. To disable SIP, follow our guide on the subject. If you are on Mac OS X El Capitan or earlier, this step is not required, as you have no SIP.

2) Once SIP is disabled, open Terminal.

3) At the Terminal command prompt, type the following and hit Enter:

cd /System/Library/CoreServices/

This moves us into the directory we want to edit.

4) Then enter the following:

sudo cp Spotlight Spotlight.bak

This makes a backup of the file we are going to edit so that if something goes wrong, we can revert.

5) Enter your password when prompted.

6) Now type ls into Terminal and press Enter. It should print a list of two files.

Spotlight.bak is the backup you created in Step 4.
Spotlight is the file we are about to edit.

Do not proceed if you cannot see both files, as it means you do not have the backup file Spotlight.bak to revert to. You must have this file in case you wish to revert your changes later.

If you can see both files, proceed to Step 7.

7a) If you are on OS X 10.11 or macOS 10.12-10.14 (El Capitan through to Mojave), enter the following command in Terminal:

sudo perl -pi -e 's|(\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x47\x40\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00)\x42\x40(\x00\x00\x80\x3f\x00\x00\x70\x42)|$1\x00\x00$2|sg' Spotlight

7b) If you are on OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), enter the following command in Terminal (all on one line):

sudo perl -pi -e 's|(\x48\xb8\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00)\x42\x40(\x48\x89\x47\x10\x48\xB8\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x36\x40)|$1\x00\x00$2|sg' Spotlight

This command patches Spotlight to make the icon width zero. This effectively makes the item invisible on your menu bar, without disabling Spotlight itself.

8) Enter the following command into Terminal, and press Enter:

cmp -l Spotlight Spotlight.bak

You should see Terminal print out something similar to this:

248855 0 102
248856 0 100

We are comparing the two files here. If the command does not print out anything at all, then the process has not worked, and you should follow our process below for reverting the changes we have made.

9) Now enter this into Terminal:

sudo codesign -f -s - Spotlight

This signs our new Spotlight is ready for use. If you receive an error here related to missing Command Line Tools and xcrun, install Xcode or run “xcode-select –install” in Terminal, both of which will provide the missing tools for the job.

10) And finally, this:

sudo killall Spotlight

This restarts the Spotlight daemon to make our changes effective.

Your entire Terminal session should look something like mine below:

Hide Spotlight icon in Mac menu bar with Terminal

Spotlight might ask for access to your keychain again, select Always Allow. It may also ask for some other privileges such as Calendars and Contacts access. Grant or deny those as you see fit. Check the top-right corner of your screen to confirm that the icon is gone. If it’s not, try a reboot.

11) Once you’ve confirmed that it works, re-enable SIP.

That should do it. Spotlight search will still function from the Finder and when summoned with a keyboard shortcut, but will no longer trespass upon your menu bar.

Reverting your changes

If you’re already missing the convenience and charm of Spotlight in your menu bar, we can easily reverse our changes to resuscitate the little fellow.

1) Disable SIP again.

2) Open the Terminal application.

3) At the prompt, enter the following, and press Enter:

cd /System/Library/CoreServices/

4) Next, enter this:

sudo mv Spotlight.bak Spotlight

5) Enter your password when prompted.

6) Now enter this command:

sudo killall Spotlight

6) Check that the Spotlight icon has returned to the menu bar. If it hasn’t, reboot your machine.

7) Re-enable SIP.

Other menu bar tips: