Remove Spotlight's menubar icon in Snow Leopard

October 14, 2009

This is just a simple tip on how to safely remove the Spotlight icon from your menubar. I disable Spotlight completely on my system (run the following terminal command if you'd like to do the same: sudo mdutil -a -i off), but even if you do use Spotlight, this solution shouldn't affect its operation, just the icon. (UPDATE: This likely will disable any keyboard shortcuts used to invoke Spotlight.)

One way to kill the icon is to remove or rename the Search.bundle package found at /System/Library/CoreServices. Obviously though, by renaming or deleting the bundle you run the risk of something breaking if a future software update attempts to read from or write to it. Another possible solution is to remove or replace with a "blank" PDF the MDSearchMenuIcon.pdf file within the /Contents/Resources/ directory of Search.bundle, but I suspect that while this may remove the icon, the space allocated to it in the menubar will persist.

To obviate these issues, you simply can change the permissions on the Search file within Search.bundle so that only root can read from and write to the file. By doing this, you ensure that 1) you (and other users of the system) can't read from the file; and 2) any future updates via Software Update can transpire without issue.

You can set the proper permissions by executing the following terminal command:

sudo chmod 600 /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle/Contents/MacOS/Search

Next, restart SystemUIServer by issuing the killall SystemUIServer terminal command.

Voila! The icon's gone. (Note that I haven't tested this on Mac OS X v10.5 and below.)

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