Mac OS X: Enable and Disable Spotlight

To Disable Spotlight for Mac OS X you can stop the Spotlight processes from being invoked by launchd.  To do so use the following commands: launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Spotlight.plist launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist To re-enable it you would simply load up your launchd processes again like so: launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Spotlight.plist launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist

Mac OS X: launch daemons vs launch agents

There are two types of services that launchd manages:

launch daemons can run without a user logged in. Launch daemons cannot display information using the GUI. Launch daemon configuration plist files are stored in the /System/Library/LaunchDaemons folder (for those provided by Apple et al) and /Library/LaunchDaemons (for the rest).  Launch agents run on behalf of a user and therefore need the user to be logged in to run.  Launch agents can display information through the window server. As with launch daemons, launch agent configuration plist files are stored in the /System/Library/LaunchAgents and /Library/LaunchAgents. User launch agents are installed in the ~/Library/LaunchAgents folder.